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March 11, 2016 05:28 PM

The Western Environmental Law Center reports that conservation groups that have been battling the Jordan Cove Energy Project, a liquefied natural gas pipeline and terminal had a major win on Friday, March 11.

WELC says in its email blast that 

decision on Friday from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has dealt a major blow to a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipeline and export terminal project in southern Oregon.

WELC says the fight is not over, writing:

The proposed pipeline would bring fracked gas from the intermountain West to the Oregon coast where it would be processed and sent via ships to Asian gas markets. The 200+ mile pipeline would clear cut a straight corridor at least 50-feet wide across rivers and through national forests, impacting riparian reserves, old-growth forests, and recreational trails (including a crossing of the Pacific Crest Trail).

Endangered fish species such as Chinook salmon, coho salmon, chum salmon, steelhead, coastal cutthroat trout, pacific and river lamprey, and green sturgeon would all be impacted. In addition, the project, if built, would be the largest greenhouse gas emitting facility in Oregon.

We are thrilled that FERC has denied the project's applications, but the fight is not over yet. The company behind the LNG project could still challenge FERC's decision in court. We will monitor the situation closely going forward and will be prepared to take action in the future if necessary.

According to FERC:

The Commission orders:

            (A)      In Docket No. CP13-492-000, Pacific Connector’s request for a certificate of public convenience and necessity under section 7(c) of the NGA to construct and operate an approximately 232-mile-long, 36-inch-diameter pipeline is denied. 

            (B)       In Docket No. CP13-483-000, Jordan Cove’s request for authorization under section 3 of the NGA to site, construct, and operate its LNG terminal in Coos Bay County, Oregon is denied.

The Oregonian reports that "Friday's rejection came with a caveat: The two companies are free to reapply in the future and the commission would consider their plans if they can demonstrate 'a market need' for their product."

Check out some history on the project here, via a 2010 EW feature story on the issue, "Make Love, Not Gas."

February 23, 2016 12:47 PM

The Oregon State Legislature is considering a bill this week that, according to Congressman Peter DeFazio, would "would ratify the flawed decision by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission to remove the gray wolf from Oregon’s endangered species list and block judicial review of their decision."

DeFazio send a letter to the Oregon State Senate Democrats "blasting" the bill, HB 4040 according to a Feb. 22 press release. He writes that "the actions that Oregon has taken, particularly the consideration of HB 4040, directly undermine my efforts at the federal level."

He writes, "I am currently fighting to maintain protections for the gray wolf at the federal level in response to increased political attacks and pressure to remove the wolf from the federal ES [endangered species list]."

The congressman is concerned with a lack of judical review that the bill is calling for. "In addition to having concems with legislation that would ratify the Oregon Department of Fish and wildlife's (Department) flawed recommendation to remove the gray wolf from the state ESA, HB 4040 also preempts judicial review of the decision, an extreme precedent-setting measure that should not be taken lightly."

DeFazio takes issue with the lack of an independent peer review process:

"The Department’s recommendation to delist the gray wolf was premature and not subject to an independent peer-review process as required by state law. Through my extensive experience with federal wolf delisting efforts, I know it is critically important that wildlife management, especially management of an iconic predator species like the gray wolf, is based upon sound scientific findings and analysis. The Department’s decision not to open their findings to a rigorous scientific review is both alarming and telling, especially since the pending federal proposal to delist the gray wolf has been mired in a near identical controversy over the science used to justify the delisting in addition to concerns over the improper influence by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the composition of the independent peer-review panel."

DeFazio is not the only one concerned about the way the bill and the wolf delisting has come to pass. Rob Klavins of conservation group Oregon Wild writes of the bill, "We're concerned about the merits of the bill as well as the clear intent/effect to sidestep the public's right to independent review of the decision."

Oregon Wild is one of three environmental organizations that "have requested a review of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission’s controversial 4-2 decision to delist wolves in November, 2015." The basis of the challenge is that the decision did not follow Oregon state law.

In a memo alleging disinformation on the bill in the Legislature, Oregon Wild writes, "HB 4040-A would be to sidestep the public’s right to hold a government agency (ODFW) accountable to its own laws."

DeFazio is also concerned with the public input that could be lost. In his letter to the Legislature he says, "The extensive stakeholder outreach and collaborative approach used by the state to develop Oregon's Wolf Management Plan, which is currently up for review this year, have made Oregon the model for wolf conservation in the nation." 

The congressman concludes, “Decisions on whether to remove a species from the state ESA should not be taken lightly or used as a political bargaining chip. At the very least you should be sure that the Department’s recommendation to delist the wolf is legally and scientifically sound.”

According to Josh Laughlin of Cascadia Wildlands, another conservation group working on wolf issues, a Senate committee will vote on the bill today after which it would pass to the full Oregon Senate.

February 23, 2016 07:12 PM

Ninkasi brewery's fine for a stormwater violation made the news in the RG and on KVAL this week, but Nikos Ridge, the popular beer maker's CEO is looking to turn that fine into a way to support clean water work in the community.

Ninkasi has long supported clean water efforts with special brews supporting clean water efforts in the watershed. Its 2014 Conservationale supported the work of the conservation group McKenzie River Trust.  

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued a $6,777 civil penalty to Ninkasi Holding Company for stormwater discharge monitoring violations. The DEQ sent a letter to the brewery Feb. 9 and then announced it in a press release Feb. 22. 

Under Oregon law, 80 percent of that fine can be used for environmental work, so rather than appeal the fine, Ridge says the brewery is filling out an application to "support the low impact development stormwater interception (bio swales, rain gardens) work that the Long Tom Watershed Council is doing."

The DEQ letter said the fine was for "for failing to monitor your stormwater discharge for benchmark levels of acidity (pH levels), total suspended solids, oil and grease, copper, lead and zinc, as well as impairment pollutant levels (including arsenic and iron)."

The violations took place between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015 at a Whiteaker-area property Ridge told the RG the company uses for storage, not brewing.

According to KVAL Ridge said of the violations:

"We forgot to submit the paperwork for a year," he said. "Now we have a third-party company to monitor that for us so it shouldn't be an issue going forward."

Ridge said the penalty is administrative. The company neglected to file reports on time, but nothing harmful is in the stormwater leaving the property.

"The issue is we didn't submit the paperwork that we are required to under the permit because we forgot about it," he said.

Ridge tells EW "We have to fill out an application to have the project accepted, but we are excited that the money can go to an organization that we have had a great relationship with here in the area."

Ninkasi has donated money in the past to the Long Tom Watershed Council's conservation efforts and also donated through it's Pints for a Cause evenings that give a percentage of a night's beer sales to nonprofit groups.

February 15, 2016 06:28 PM

The City of Eugene Human Rights Commission will meet and vote on the adoption of an Indigenous Peoples' Day resolution Tuesday, February 16th, at 5:30 pm at the Atrium Bldg. 99 W.10th Ave. Eugene (Sloat Room). Proponents of the switch from Columbus Day to Indigenous People's Day, such as community member Ada Ball are encouraging turnout at the meeting.

Just what is Indigenous People's Day? The holiday, celebrated in Portland, Seattle and several other cities across the country, "reimagines Columbus Day and changes a celebration of colonialism into an opportunity to reveal historical truths about the genocide and oppression of indigenous peoples in the Americas, to organize against current injustices, and to celebrate indigenous resistance," according to the Unitarian Universalist Association

Ball, who has been fighting for the resolution, says:

"The resolution would be an official document of HRC [the Human Rights Commission] if adopted tomorrow. If adopted,the HRC would then be able to, along with support from the public, pass this on to [Eugene] City Council. HRC has the ability to make Indigenous Peoples' Day a City Council agenda item, which would give space for community members, businesses/ organizations, etc to build more momentum and support for this.

I think this is a great opportunity for the city of Eugene to build a base for supporting and affirming Indigenous, Native American, Alaska Native peoples locally, regionally, and nationally. I'm really excited to see how creative we, Eugene, can get with our Indigenous Peoples' Day celebration."

The proposed resolution is below. It was originally written by Phil Carrasco of the Human Rights Commission then opened to public comment, Ball says. 

Resolution : Declare the Second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day

 WHEREAS, the City of Eugene Human Rights Commission (CEHRC) recognizes that the Indigenous peoples of the lands that would later become known as the Americas have lived on these lands since time immemorial; and

WHEREAS, the CEHRC honors the fact that the City of Eugene is built upon the traditional homelands of the Kalapuya peoples and recognizes the inherent sovereignty of the nine federally recognized tribal nations in the State of Oregon and all Indigenous peoples everywhere; and

WHEREAS, the CEHRC values the many contributions made to our community through Indigenous peoples’ knowledge, labor, technology, science, philosophy, arts and the deep cultural contribution that has substantially shaped the character of the City of Eugene ; and

WHEREAS, the CEHRC has a responsibility to oppose the systematic racism towards Indigenous people in the United States, which perpetuates high rates of poverty and income inequality, exacerbating disproportionate health, education, and social crises ; and

WHEREAS, Indigenous Peoples’ Day was first proposed in 1977 by a delegation of Native Nations to the United Nations sponsored International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas; and

WHEREAS, the CEHRC is committed to protecting and advocating for justice, human rights, and the dignity of all people who live and work in Eugene and vows to uphold the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the “Declaration”) endorsed by the United States on December 16, 2010; and

WHEREAS, the Declaration recognizes the right of Indigenous peoples “to the dignity and diversity of their cultures, traditions, histories and aspirations which shall be appropriately reflected in education and public information,” and places an obligation on States to “take effective measures, in consultation and cooperation with the Indigenous peoples concerned, to combat prejudice and eliminate discrimination and to promote tolerance, understanding and good relations among Indigenous peoples and all other segments of society”; and

WHEREAS, the CEHRC understands colonization not as an historic event but as an ongoing structure predicated on the elimination of Indigenous life and land, and contends that the celebration of Christopher Columbus and his alleged “discovery” of Indigenous lands celebrates the colonization and dispossession of Indigenous peoples throughout the Americas; and

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the CEHRC declares its support for the City of Eugene to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the second Monday in October; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Eugene strike from the calendars and websites all references to Columbus Day; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Eugene utilize this day as an opportunity to reflect upon the ongoing struggles of Indigenous people of this land, to celebrate the thriving cultures and values of the Indigenous Peoples of our region, and to stand in solidarity with with Indigenous peoples elsewhere; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the CEHRC strongly encourages the Eugene 4J and Bethel School Districts and Board members to comply with the Oregon American Indian/Alaska Native State Plan which mandates that the public schools of our City teach about the history, culture, contemporary lives, and governments of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, with special emphasis on those from Oregon and across the Pacific Northwest ; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the CEHRC encourages other businesses, organizations, and public institutions to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the second Monday in October; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the CEHRC firmly commits to continue its efforts to promote the well-being and growth of Eugene’s Indigenous community.

Adopted by the City of Eugene Human Rights Commission on __, 2016 .

February 3, 2016 06:00 PM

Are Eugene city councilors getting left out of the loop when it comes to the construction of the new City Hall and their future offices there? Or lack of offices, as the case may be.

Recently more than half the City Council questioned City Manager Jon Ruiz on the latest developments with the public building under construction.

In an email to Ruiz and her fellow city councilors on Jan. 30, Councilor Betty Taylor writes, “As I told you during our recent conversation, I am shocked that plans for the new City Hall do not include councilors’ offices.” Instead, she says in the email, the plans now call for “work spaces.”

Taylor continues, “You said that individual councilors told the planners (architects?) that they would not use the offices. They did not ask me, but that is not my main point.”

Taylor goes on to detail the many reasons City Hall would need offices for its elected officials, from having office hours open to the public to the ability to have a “conversation without the risk of discussing council business with a quorum outside of a public meeting.”

The current plans apparently call for the mayor and city manager to have offices separated by two floors from the “work spaces,” she writes, adding that this “indicates a lack of respect for the positions of ward-elected officials.”

Read more in Thursday’s EW

January 27, 2016 04:06 PM

An eyewitness is contradicting the account put out by the Bundy Bunch that LaVoy Finicum was on his knees with his hands up when shot by law enforcement. 

McConnell who says he had been personal security for Ammon Bundy says he was following the pickup truck driven by LaVoy Finicum and seeks to put rumors to rest about Finicum's death, saying he was not on his knees and he charged at law enforcement. Finicum had tried to drive away from law enforcement then ran the truck into a snowbank, according to several accounts. 

The video is on McConnell's Facebook page here.

And below, The Oregonian has made a copy available on YouTube. 

A man named Melvin Lee has posted a video as well to clarify McConnell's story. He says McConnell was not arrested with the rest of the Malheur occupiers because he had not been part of the group out at the refuge. 

 

Finally, Victoria Sharps a young woman who was in the car with Ammon Bundy says Finicum's hands were up. 

January 26, 2016 07:13 PM

Update: arrests have been confirmed, one, LaVoy Finicum, aka "Tarpman," is deceased, according to media reports. Santilli has been arrested. See full press release below.

Pete Santilli of the "Pete Santilli Show," who has been posting videos from the standoff at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, posted a video Tuesday evening saying Ammon Bundy has been arrested and shots have been fired. This has not been confirmed with law enforcement as of 6 pm.

Santilli identifies himself on Twitter as a "proud 'Leave-Me-The-Heck-Alone-ist' Don't mess with me. Don't take my stuff. Exposing violations of our Constitutional rights; especially the Police-State's." He posts on Facebook as "Talk Network News."

Santilli is live streaming from the hospital. OPB news has confirmed the hospital is on lockdown.

Les Zaitz of The Oregonian is reporting a local governement official says occupation leader Ryan Payne was shot. Zaitz says that the highway between John Day in Burns is blocked by police. Zaitz has been covering the occupation since it began. Follow his updates on Twitter.

 

UPDATE - ADDITIONAL ARREST MADE IN THE OCCUPATION OF THE MALHEUR NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE: JOINT STATEMENT BY THE FBI AND OSP News Release from FBI - Oregon Posted on FlashAlert: January 26th, 2016 7:44 PM UPDATE AS OF 7:45 P.M.

At approximately 6:30 p.m. (PST), the FBI arrested Peter Santilli, age 50, of Cincinnati, Ohio, in Burns, Oregon. He faces the same federal felony charge as the individuals listed below.

The arrest was without incident. At approximately 4:25 p.m. (PST) on Tuesday, January 26, 2016, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Oregon State Police (OSP) began an enforcement action to bring into custody a number of individuals associated with the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

During that arrest, there were shots fired. One individual who was a subject of a federal probable cause arrest is deceased. We will not be releasing any information about that person pending identification by the medical examiner's office.

One individual suffered non-life threatening injuries and was transported to a local hospital for treatment. He was arrested and is currently in custody.

The arrested individuals include:

* Ammon Edward Bundy, age 40, of Emmett, Idaho

* Ryan C. Bundy, age 43, of Bunkerville, Nevada * Brian Cavalier, age 44, of Bunkerville, Nevada

* Shawna Cox, age 59, Kanab, Utah

* Ryan Waylen Payne, age 32, of Anaconda, Montana

These probable cause arrests occurred along Highway 395.

In a separate event in Burns, Oregon, at approximately 5:50 pm, Oregon State Police arrested the following individual:

* Joseph Donald O'Shaughnessy, age 45, Cottonwood, Arizona

All of the named defendants face a federal felony charge of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation, or threats, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 372.

We continue to work with Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward and his deputies; Oregon State Police; and the United States Attorney's Office to address any further outstanding issues. As the investigation is ongoing, we cannot comment further at this time.

All defendants should be presumed innocent until proven guilty. 

January 25, 2016 06:09 PM

Kelly Gneiting, one of the occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge has apparently issues a challenge to Governer Chris Christie (and I'm really hoping that this is as fake as the satirical story about the old birdwatcher pulling a high school wrestling move, but I'm afraid it's not). 

With comments such as challenging Christie to fight "mano a mano" while "wearing diapers and slapping bellies just like when we were toddlers," Gneiting takes Christie to task for suggesting the Oregon "militia" disband and says if Christie wins one of 10 wrestling matches "the Oregon Occupation will disperse."

Gneiting has said previously "God wants us here."

Just when you thought VanillaISIS couldn't get any weirder.

January 21, 2016 03:47 PM

FBI STATEMENT ON MALHEUR NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE SITUATION

 

The FBI recognizes that many in the community have questions about why we are here and our role in helping to end the occupation of the wildlife refuge. We are here to work closely with Sheriff Ward and our local, state and federal partners to protect the safety and welfare of this community. This occupation has caused tremendous disruption and hardship for the people of Harney County, and our response has been deliberate and measured as we seek a peaceful resolution.                                  

January 19, 2016 06:47 PM

From felons with guns to people harassing media and law enforcment, the Harney County Sheriff David Ward has had it with VanillaISIS and their occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge.

In today's press release, Ward details run-ins with the law the occupiers have had while in Eastern Oregon, as well as events surrounding the almost three-week standoff.

He wraps it up saying, "I then personally met with Ammon Bundy, who has proclaimed to be the leader of the occupation, on Thursday, January 7, 2016 to discuss a peaceful resolution. I asked Ammon and his group to leave, which he stated he would not do. From that point forward, the occupiers at the refuge have been considered by law enforcement (local, state and federal) to be criminals -- and they need to vacate the refuge.

It's clear at this point that the Bundy group does not have the interests of Harney County in mind -- they're in it for their own agenda. We will continue to work to keep you safe while they continue to not keep their word."

 

MESSAGE FROM SHERIFF WARD (TUESDAY, JAN. 19, 5:30 P.M.)

News Release from Harney Co. Sheriff
Posted on FlashAlert: January 19th, 2016 5:29 PM

We continue to work with our law-enforcement partners to protect the Harney County community during the armed and unlawful occupation occurring at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. 

Some events have occurred in the community involving criminals heading to or from the refuge. These are listed below: 

THURSDAY, JANUARY 14 -- Oregon State Police (OSP) stopped a vehicle for a lighting violation. The driver -- Dwane Kirkland, of Hamilton, Montana -- was arrested on charges of Felon in Possession of a Firearm. He was in possession of a handgun and a rifle. The vehicle he was driving had switched plates and was uninsured. 

FRIDAY, JANUARY 15 -- OSP arrested Kenneth Medenbach, of LaPine, at the Safeway in Burns. He was arrested on probable cause for Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle. OSP recovered two vehicles stolen from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge during this encounter. 

Occupants of the second vehicle fled the scene before police arrival. The Sheriff's Office is working to identify and arrest these suspects. If you have any information, please contact the sheriff's office with tips at 541-573-1362

Every time a trespasser from the refuge operates a vehicle that belongs to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, they are committing a crime. We will not tolerate it when they come into our community driving stolen vehicles. 

SUNDAY, JANUARY 17 -- OSP discovered a traffic crash on Greenhouse Lane near Highway 20. An investigation revealed the driver -- Darrow Burke, of Ukiah, California -- lost control on an icy corner and rolled. He was not injured, but was cited for no operator's license. Mr. Burke told OSP troopers he had been at the refuge for the past week. 

Law enforcement has also had multiple contacts with non-Harney County citizens who claim they are in the community to act as intermediaries between the FBI and the trespassers. Many of these people are armed with handguns and assault rifles. These persons -- as well as the trespassers -- are wearing police/military-style body armor when contacting law enforcement. They continue to conduct surveillance on law enforcement and have harassed members of the media. 

We will continue to work with our partners to keep Harney County safe while the FBI works toward a peaceful resolution at the refuge. Additional law enforcement resources have been moved towards locations to be poised to react to any situation that may occur. This includes notifying the hospital of more people in town and ensuring they have the capability to handle any medical emergency. 

Today's events include: 

- Today at noon, a "Rally for Malheur" was held in cities throughout Oregon, hosted by the Audubon society. 

Tonight at 7 p.m., Harney County is hosting its second Community Meeting in the Burns High School gym. We encourage the community to show up to hear the latest updates and make your voices heard. 

The Bundy group continues to break its repeated promises to leave the refuge if the community asked them to do so. On Monday, January 4, the community did just that -- and the Bundy group failed to leave. 

I then personally met with Ammon Bundy, who has proclaimed to be the leader of the occupation, on Thursday, January 7, 2016 to discuss a peaceful resolution. I asked Ammon and his group to leave, which he stated he would not do. From that point forward, the occupiers at the refuge have been considered by law enforcement (local, state and federal) to be criminals -- and they need to vacate the refuge. 

It's clear at this point that the Bundy group does not have the interests of Harney County in mind -- they're in it for their own agenda. We will continue to work to keep you safe while they continue to not keep their word. 

January 18, 2016 01:46 AM

As Martin Luther King Jr., Day dawns, a couple of brothers from Eugene, Jake and Zach Klonoski remind Oregonians that it's not just a day off, but a day of action. The action they seek is against the occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

As humorous stories both true (people are sending them dildos) and satirical (old birdwatcher takes them out with a wrestling move) circle the internet, the brothers write that most Oregonians have "felt the shame of our state being mocked in national media as the occupation has stretched on with no end in sight."

The full press release is below.

We are often reminded that the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. honored today demands that we make this holiday a day of action and not simply enjoy a day off.

For Oregonians, this MLK Day carries with it a deep frustration.  For sixteen days, the highest profile protest in the nation is on our soil, though it is not being conducted by Oregonians.  Deep in southeastern Oregon, a small group of heavily armed, out-of-state militants have seized public land and buildings on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.  An inheritance of every American, President Teddy Roosevelt set aside the Malheur NWR in 1908 “as a preserve and breeding ground for native birds.”  Three hundred twenty species of birds visit or live in the Malheur NWR, a treasure of the great Pacific Flyway that stretches from Alaska to Patagonia.

Most Oregonians have heard the militants demands that public lands be auctioned off and felt the shame of our state being mocked in national media as the occupation has stretched on with no end in sight.  Admirably, law enforcement authorities have restrained themselves to avoid violence or injury – though clearly the law is being flouted and the local community does not support the occupation.

 Still the specter of violence hangs over Oregon this MLK Day, and there is insufficient outlet for Oregonians to respond to the offensiveness of this illegal intrusion.  This day more than any other demands action.

But as MLK reminded the nation in 1963 from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, “We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.  We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.” 

We find creative lessons for the situation in Harney County in a small southeastern German town, Wunseidel.  There an annual neo-Nazi march glorifying the Third Reich regularly embarrassed the local community. 

Until 2014. 

That year when the Neo-Nazis gathered, to their surprise their marching route was demarked meter-by-meter and the community came out to cheer them on.  Local residents had organized and pledged donations for every meter the marchers preceded that would go to EXIT Germany, a group dedicated to supporting the safe exit of neo-Nazi from extremist groups.  The YouTube video of the 2014 march-turned-Walk-a-thon is a thing of beauty.

We know the occupiers of the Malheur still have internet access, the tweets of the anti-government activists requesting snacks be mailed by US Post Office are infamous. 

That connectivity opens a path for us all to teach these out-of-staters a lesson about Oregon.  We invite you to visit www.GOHOMEmalheur.org where you will find information on the “Getting the Occupiers of the Historic Oregon Malheur NWR Evicted” campaign (G.O.H.O.M.E.).  You can also add a per day campaign pledge of any amount that you choose, your donation will increase with each day that the occupation of the Malheur NWR continues.

At the end of the occupation the collected donations will be distributed between the four groups below, groups antithetical to the occupiers’ message of brute force and rage, as well as the privilege and narcissism inherent in their goals.

 • Friends of Malheur NWR – a civic organization dedicated to the environmental and educational goals of the Malheur NWR, the Refuge’s upkeep and protection, and to promoting the NWR system;

•      Americans for Responsible Action — a national political action group, founded in the wake of the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre by former Congresswoman Gabby Gifford, to advocate for common sense gun control and Second Amendment rights;

•     Burns Paiute tribe – the original inhabitants of the Malheur region, dispossessed despite a 1868 treaty, the tribal leadership has eloquently given lie to the occupation’s claim to be fighting for the “rightful owners” of the Malheur.

•    The Southern Poverty Law Center – a decades-old organization that monitors extremist groups around the United States and reports on their activities.

Each day the occupiers choose to continue their illegal occupation of our lands, they will be increasing funding of these groups.  Their illegal occupation will be transformed into an occupy-a-thon, raising money that will assist in undoing any accomplishment they hope will emerge from their efforts.

Our fondest hope is that in a cold building in Harney County, an occupier will read this article, type in www.GOHOMEmalheur.org and witness the combined statement of thousands Oregonians, of tens of thousands of Americans, demonstrating the futility of what he is doing.  Deflated, he will shoulder his weapon and peacefully depart our state —the threat of physical force defeated by our collective soul force. 

If you would like to send your message, visit www.GOHOMEmalheur.org.  The language to announce your pledge on social media is there to share far and wide.  Make a pledge and honor this day of action, while demonstrating to the occupiers of the Malheur NWR how to act for change with discipline and dignity.

The Klonoski brothers are the sons of Judge Ann Aiken. Aiken has taken criticism for being the judge who sentenced the Hammonds, the men who committed arson on federal lands, to the full five years the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that they be sentenced to. 

Jake Klonoski told The Register-Guard that, "“We have not spoken to her about this, she doesn’t know what’s going on, and we have no intent to speak to her about this because it has nothing to do with her."

January 7, 2016 02:37 PM

Climate change? Go ahead, try and deny it. 

Or pay attention to some of that science-type stuff coming out of OSU.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A mild winter, an early spring and warmer-than-average temperatures every season have contributed to a record-breaking year, as 2015 will go down as the warmest in Oregon since state records began in 1895.

Oregon’s previous record high average temperature of 49.9 degrees was set in 1934 – the height of the Dust Bowl – when the entire country was plagued by hot, dry weather.

Despite a cold, icy end to December in Oregon, the average temperature in 2015 was 50.4 degrees, not only a record but far above the average yearly temperature for the 20th century, which was 47.8 degrees, according to Oregon State University’s Philip Mote, who directs the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute on campus.

“In previous years, we’ve had periods where the weather was warmer for differing spells,” Mote said. “In 2015, though, it was warmer than average almost all the way through the year.”

A combination of meteorological conditions and greenhouse gases led to the record warm year, he added.

The statistics are from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

Oregon was not alone in experiencing a warm 2015, according to Kathie Dello, deputy director of the Oregon Climate Service at OSU. Washington, Montana and Florida also experienced record high temperatures, and in several other states 2015 went down in the top five of all time.

It appears this will be yet another record warm year for average global temperature, Dello pointed out, and it is officially the second warmest year in the United States, despite blizzards and Arctic temperatures in the Northeast.

“If you are 31 years of age, you have not lived through a single month in which the global temperature was below average,” Dello said. “And if you are 31 and living in Oregon, you have only experienced three years here that were cooler than the 20th-century average.”

Researchers calculate the average temperature for each day by looking at the highest and lowest temperatures. If the high reaches 90 degrees and the low is 60, that day’s average temperature is 75 degrees. They then calculate the average monthly temperature, and finally, the average yearly temperature.

The average for the state is done by analyzing temperatures at a series of long-established weather stations throughout the state.

“We had a ridge of high pressure that set up and kept the weather warm and dry throughout most of the summer and fall,” Mote said. “That followed a winter in which we got nearly average precipitation, but much of it came from the south and it fell as rain instead of snow.”

Mote said the record-setting 2015 weather was a combination of meteorological phenomena and the Earth gradually getting warmer because of human activities.

Through rigorous statistical analysis, scientists are able to tease out the impacts of El Niño, greenhouse gas emissions, volcanic activity and solar activity on temperatures.

Mote said 2015 would have been a warm year because of meteorological conditions, but the 1-2 degrees (F) attributable to greenhouse gases pushed temperatures into record territory.

“There’s little doubt that the insulation of the planet from greenhouse gas emissions played a role in the warming throughout the year,” he said.

The OSU researchers say expect more of the same in 2016.

“With El Niño and the remnants of The Blob (a huge warm patch of water in the North Pacific Ocean), it should be another warm year for the Earth, and for Oregon,” Dello said.

January 4, 2016 02:50 PM

It's pretty much once in a blue moon that pro-wolf conservation group Oregon Wild and the Oregon Cattlemen's Association find themselves on the same side of the fence on a public lands issue. But when it comes to the Bundy militia's takeover of a federal building on the Malheur Wildlife Refuge they agree that they are against it.

The OCA is against the takeover, but the group does support the Hammonds, the ranchers' whose beef with the BLM (and arson episodes) launched this debacle. 

Burns, the Hammonds and Oregon Cattlemen's Association

SALEM,Ore., (01/04/2016) -- Today, January 4, 2016 Oregon ranchers Dwight and Steve Hammond have left their homes to report to a federal prison. Both ranchers are faithful, long term Oregon Cattlemen's Association members. Many have asked where the association stands on the Hammond's predicament.

The Oregon Cattlemen's Association has declared that they do not support illegal activity taken against the government but has, and will continue, to support the Hammonds via avenues that are in accordance with the law.

John O'Keeffe, current president of the OCA, said the ranchers in Burns strive to work together with surrounding agencies. "The community of Burns and the ranchers there have been very resourceful in working together with agencies on many wildlife issues," he said. "Furthermore, OCA does not support illegal activity taken against the government. This includes militia takeover of government property, such as the Malheur Wildlife Refuge."

OCA's Executive Director, Jerome Rosa, pointed out that the Oregon Cattlemen's Association has supported the Hammonds for some time and does not agree with their current re-sentencing. "OCA feels the Hammond's situation is a classic case of double jeopardy. The Hammonds were tried and convicted by a jury of their peers and have already served their sentence," Rosa said.

Although the Hammonds have already been sentenced to additional prison time, OCA is continuing to work to find ways to support them.

O'Keeffe mentioned several legal ways the organization is working to provide assistance. "We are circulating an online petition asking the White House to review the Hammonds case." A link to the petition can be found the OCA website or on their social media channels. "In addition to clemency efforts, we are working through legal avenues to help the Hammonds get their BLM grazing permits restored," said O'Keeffe.

While the Oregon Cattlemen's Association does not agree with the current legal action being taken against the Hammonds, OCA will continue to assist and represent the Hammonds solely through avenues that are in accordance with the law.

The Oregon Cattlemen's Association was founded in 1913 and works to promote environmentally and socially sound industry practices, improve and strengthen the economics of the industry, and protect its industry communities and private property rights.

Meanwhile, Oregon Wild is not only against the armed takeover, but has some choice words for the the tactics being used, calling it terrorism. 

Public Lands Under Attack by Armed Insurrectionists

Perverted interpretation of US Constitution used to justify occupation of wildlife refuge

Statement of Sean Stevens, Executive Director of Oregon Wild, on the armed occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge:

“America’s public lands -- our National Parks, National Forests, Wildlife Refuges and other special places -- are among our most prized national treasures. Yet today, our public lands are under attack by insurrectionists in Harney County, Oregon. An armed militia group led by out-of-state ringleaders has seized the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, and is using threats of violence and intimidation to try and achieve their political ends.

“We are disgusted that this group is hijacking the word “patriotism” to justify its actions, while rejecting the basic tenets of American society--democracy and the rule of law. They claim their seizure of Malheur refuge is in support of two local ranchers. However, those ranchers were convicted in a court of law of arson in a case involving poaching deer on public lands and intentionally setting fires that damaged hundreds of acres of public land to hide the evidence, endangering firefighters in the area. The two ranchers in question failed to serve the mandatory minimum sentence required for their crimes, and are now being required to serve their full terms.

“The details of the Hammond case are disturbing, but they are a distraction to what is truly happening here. These armed occupiers are using intimidation and threats of violence to make a political point. They do not believe the American government should own any land, and that our National Parks, Forests, Refuges, or other lands should be privatized. They base their views on a perverted definition of the U.S. Constitution - one that has been thoroughly discredited by lawmakers, legal scholars, and the courts. Numerous opinion polls show that the American public across the political spectrum supports our public lands--places that belong to all Americans, and that all Americans have a right to responsibly use and enjoy.

“The dictionary definition of the word terrorism is “the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.” This word should not be used lightly, but it is exactly what the the extremist group currently occupying Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is attempting to do. The people of Oregon are scared and angry, and politicians and members of the news media should not create a double standard by labeling this group something else.

“Oregon Wild calls upon local, state and federal authorities in Oregon to work to resolve this conflict without the violence and bloodshed that the insurrectionists seek, so that Malheur National Wildlife Refuge can once again be a protected haven for wildlife. Elected officials, in no uncertain terms, must denounce this terrorism. We also urge federal and state law enforcement to ensure that the perpetrators of this crime are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Background:

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was set aside 100 years ago to protect wetlands for migratory and breeding waterfowl, waterbirds, shorebirds, songbirds, and raptors. As the Portland Audubon Society has noted:

In 2013, the Refuge adopted a long-term management plan developed through an inclusive collaborative process that brought together the local community, tribes, conservation groups, state and federal agencies, and other stakeholders. These stakeholders have continued to work together to implement this strategy which includes one of the biggest wetland restoration efforts ever undertaken.

The group occupying these public lands is led by members of the Cliven Bundy family, who previously staged an armed stand-off with federal law enforcement after they refused to pay the American public grazing fees, despite running their cattle on public lands for more than two decades. Individuals at that stand-off, including some now at Malheur, bragged about pointing sniper scopes at law enforcement officers. The individuals involved in this insurrection have yet to be held accountable to the law.

In recent months we have witnessed increasingly divisive rhetoric in our national political dialogue pertaining to America’s public lands. Comments spanning from local politicians to candidates for president have emboldened this kind of behavior. Oregon state legislators, county commissioners, and sheriffs have become increasingly outspoken in their desire to seize public lands away from the American public and turn it over to extractive interests. Indeed, in the 2015 session of the Oregon Legislature there were several bills introduced with the intent to seize national public lands.

January 4, 2016 01:07 PM

The Oregonian and OPB have reporters on the scene of the Bundy occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County Oregon, aka #VanillaISIS (let's note Daesh is more appropriate, but that doesn't hashtag as well). 

High Country News has been covering the "Sagebrush Rebellion" for 40 years. Scroll down to 1994 for an article on the Malheur refuge.

OPB's Amanda Peacher's tweet showing the Bundy militia's supplies is rather telling. Her Twitter feed is worth a follow for followers of the refuge takeover.

 

In comparison to the events in Oregon, reading up on the saga of the Shoshone Dann sisters of Nevada in their battle for land makes for an informative read. As the columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal points out, "The Danns had the support of the United Nations, but not the endorsement of armed 'patriots' or an outpouring of assistance from conservative media outlets and right-wing political action networks."

The Portland Audobon Society weighs in on the Harney County standoff, writing:

The occupation of Malheur by armed, out of state militia groups puts one of America’s most important wildlife refuges at risk. It violates the most basic principles of the Public Trust Doctrine and holds hostage public lands and public resources to serve the very narrow political agenda of the occupiers. The occupiers have used the flimsiest of pretexts to justify their actions—the conviction of two local ranchers in a case involving arson and poaching on public lands. Notably, neither the local community or the individuals convicted have requested or endorsed the occupation or the assistance of militia groups.

And the FBI is now involved.

FBI STATEMENT ON HARNEY COUNTY SITUATION
News Release from FBI - Oregon

The FBI is working with the Harney County Sheriff's Office, Oregon State Police and other local and state law enforcement agencies to bring a peaceful resolution to the situation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

The FBI is the lead investigative agency for the situation at the refuge.

Due to safety considerations for both those inside the refuge as well as the law enforcement officers involved, we will not be releasing any specifics with regards to the law enforcement response.

And below (click the image for the full document) is the summary of the court case that led the Hammonds to go to prison, and the Bundys to show up in rural Oregon. The acting U.S. attorney points out the government never called the Hammonds terrorists.