My dad worked at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, and he knows what happens when ranchers get their way – ‘These fields were merely mud and cow shit’Posted by Jim at Thursday, January 14, 2016
By Tobias Coughlin-Bogue
6 January 2016
(The Stranger) – Since the Mahleur National Wildlife Refuge occupation began, there’s been a number of articles pointing out how deeply in the wrong these self-styled freedom fighters are. Dan pointed out white privilege, Sydney pointed out hypocrisy, and Charles pointed out capitalism.
But there is one more point to be made here: The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is also culturally significant. It isn’t federally protected because the government hates ranchers, it’s federally protected because the American people, like the Dixie Chicks, love wide-open spaces.
In statements to the media, Ammon Bundy, who heads the occupation, has made it clear that he considers the expansion of the wildlife refuge, and its shift away from allowing private citizens to use it for commercial activity, to be counter to the interests of the “people.” […]
My dad worked on the refuge as a field archaeologist for five years in the 1970s, and he has a very different story to tell:
My first experience with cattle grazing on the refuge lands was in the south part of the refuge near Frenchglen. Several fields between the west side canal and the Donner und Blitzen River were being used for grazing. There were lots of cattle there. I think these cattle were from one of the larger ranches in the area, can’t say which one, but Roaring Springs Ranch comes to mind. The cattle had pretty much eaten just about all available vegetation there. These fields were merely mud and cow shit. It was ugly. We were not able to survey these fields for prehistoric sites until a few years later when the fields were not used for grazing. [more]