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The Bundy Militia Raid on Burns: What the Media Left Out

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Public lands are some of our most treasured lands in the nation. Opal Creek, Crater Lake, the Siuslaw National Forest here in Oregon to name just a few. The truth behind the Bundy influenced takeover of the Malheur refuge HQ should be exposed for what it is.

I spend numerous days camping, hiking and photographing wildlife in Malheur Refuge. The place is heaven. The community people are friendly and the refuge staff is dedicated to the protection of wildlife as they accommodate the needs of the local community. I say: what are the facts?

1 Ammond Bundy’s false narrative should be exposed. He is the son of a rancher that grazes on your public lands: at a reduced cost. He has avoided paying his fees. I am older: I call those types….dead beats or true welfare queens. They are not patriots: they are acting like thugs and bringing in outside influences who don’t give a damn about Oregon.

2 They are breaking onto our land and our tax payer funded building in Malheur. Their excuse? The Cliven Bundy crew is defending the conviction of the Hammond family (a father ands son). They destroyed OUR PUBLIC PROPERTY to cover up their illegal hunting/killing deer. FACTS MATTER. Witnesses at trial, including a relative of the Hammonds, testified the arson occurred shortly after Steven Hammond and his hunting party illegally slaughtered several deer on BLM property. Jurors were told that Steven Hammond handed out “Strike Anywhere” matches with instructions that they be lit and dropped on the ground because they were going to “light up the whole country on fire.” One witness testified that he barely escaped the eight to ten foot high flames caused by the arson. The fire consumed 139 acres of public land and destroyed all evidence of the game violations.

3 The Bundy crew is being manipulated by powerful interests who want to privatize public lands. This is not new. In the 1970s: it was called the Sagebrush Rebellion. In the 1990s: the Wise Use Movement. These are efforts by mining, timber, grazing, oil and gas interests to privatize your public lands.

4 Our public lands are crucial for wildlife, purifying water and air, providing recreation and tourist dollars for local economies. Know this: more and more extraction is occurring ON OUR PUBLIC lands. Time to stop this.

5 The false narrative here is that big, bad government types are trying to stir up trouble. In reality: from Ted Cruz to powerful extractive industries: they are desperately seeking ways to give these lands, our lands: back to the states. Then: let the extraction begin with sales of our prized lands to the highest bidder.

6 Contact your Congressperson. Contact the White House. Write letters to the editor.

7 Don’t be duped by the Bundy narrative. We are a nation of laws. Those public lands belong to your children and grandchildren. If they want change: use the democratic process. I wonder: if I went to Malheur and cut fences of private land owners to help mustangs: I would be a criminal. I would be labeled an “environmental terrorist,” Let’s call this action by Bundy and ilk for what it is: an act of terrorism. Peaceful protests don’t include bringing assault weapons and threatening to harm federal police for doing their jobs?

Enough is enough. Get off our public land and follow the laws like most of us do.

John Borowski is an environmental educator in Oregon.

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