Common Merganser with chicks at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Photo: Roger Baker, USFWS Volunteer / flickr

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]

My Dad Worked at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, and He Knows What Happens When Ranchers Get Their Way


  1. Anonymous said...

    Have you SEEN the kinds of idiots that support this occupation / takeover? Ignorant morons spouting nonsense. They do have a few things correct, that I admit, but they have far more dead wrong. To most of the world, they just look like a bunch of clowns.

    Here's some things everyone should know about Ammon Bundy:

    And here's some things everyone should know about the 'occupiers':

    The Bundy's have refused to pay for their land use - and yet managed to convince thousands of these knee-jerk idiots that they were being 'deprived'. Fast forward to Malheur and we've got the same idiots staging yet another 'occupation'.

    None of these fools are worth the newprint or bytes of coverage. Once again, they chose the WRONG SIDE and the WRONG DEFENSE for their issues. They're not too bright.  

  2. Anonymous said...

    Why help preserve the environment, when there a million people born every four days?


  3. Anonymous said...

    Anonymous - If you don't preserve the environment, it dies because "there are a million people born every four days" (and dies for many other reasons). And when it's gone (drained, paved over, whatever) how will those millions live?

    We can't live if we destroy everything that is still left - and neither can anything else. It is absolutely essential for our survival to preserve them (other species and wild places) so that we too can live.

    Population is a huge problem. It's called population overshoot. It needs to stop.  

  4. messtime said...

    I visited this reserve many years ago. A large lake had just formed (actually a large mud puddle) - i call it my "miracle" lake. I think this new lake was only about 2 to 3ft deep at the center. The shallow lake was good for the birds to use. I think probably all the good grazing grasses are gone from this area. Now this area cannot support very many cattle. It has already been over-grazed in the past. Gunnar Brune wrote in "Springs of Texas" what happens to these areas from over-grazing: For one thing the ground becomes "Compacted" from the thousands of hoofs pressing down on the ground. These areas have been over exploited many years ago and are probably best used for the wild animals. At one time this area probably provided a good income for ranchers, but i think it would be hard to duplicate the older days when the grasses were much better.  


Blog Template by Adam Every . Sponsored by Business Web Hosting Reviews