FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bullies of Burns: the Backstory on the Hammonds

by

Dwight Hammond and his son Steve, the ranchers who sparked the recent Harney County protests, were characterized as “responsible ranchers” by Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) in a speech before Congress.

Walden sought to minimize the crimes the Hammonds have committed by suggesting they merely burned a bit more than a hundred acres, something that he tried to compare to normal everyday range management by federal agencies. So what’s the problem? The problem is that Walden is ignoring decades of violations and other crimes committed by the Hammonds.

Despite their bad behavior, it has been revealed that the Hammonds are negotiating with the BLM to get their grazing permit reinstated after the BLM revoked it for their numerous violations and crimes.

The Bundy gang that is holding the Malheur Refuge and Harney County residents as hostages, characterized the Hammonds as victims of government “overreach” and are demanding that the Hammonds get their permit reinstated as one of the conditions they required to leave Harney County.

The Hammonds are anything but “responsible ranchers” or victims of government “overreach.” They are criminals who have repeatedly violated the law and have frequently avoided paying the penalties.

For instance, the Hammonds set a fire that burned public land in 1999, but no charges were brought against them. Then in 2001 they set another fire to hide the fact that they had poached at least seven deer out of season with other deer wounded and limping away according to witnesses. A hunting guide who witnessed the event was forced to leave his camp and flee for his life to avoid the flames. The fire burned 139 acres of public property and destroyed evidence of their poaching.

After they set the fire, it is alleged they threatened bodily harm to a teenage relative and told him to keep his mouth shut about the fire.

Then in 2006 the Hammonds set yet another arson fire was set that nearly overcame a BLM fire crew that was attempting to quell another blaze.

The arson charges were not the Hammonds’ first brush with the law. The Hammonds were arrested in 1994 and charged with felony for interfering with federal officials. The charge had a three year maximum sentence, but they only spent two nights in jail—after then Congressman Bob Smith intervened on their behalf.

After numerous violations of his grazing terms on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Dwight Hammond had his grazing permit revoked. In retaliation, Hammond purposely disabled a bulldozer along the route of a fence line that was being constructed to keep their cows from trespassing on OUR public property. When the fence crew showed up, and called for a tow truck to remove the Hammond’s bulldozer, Dwight Hammond leaped to the levers and suddenly lowered the blade nearly killing one of the federal employees. Hammond was not even arrested or charged for this event.

After this incident, the refuge manager and others began to receive death threats over the phone. The refuge manager’s wife had to leave the area for fear of her life.

However, this was nothing new. In 1986, 19888, and 1991, Hammond made repeated death threats against refuge managers, plus frequently engaged in verbal abuses towards other federal workers.

Despite their vitriol rhetoric and disdain for the federal government, the Hammonds gladly collected a minimum of nearly $300,000 in direct subsidies from taxpayers, not to mention the below-cost grazing fees they enjoyed while feeding their cattle on public grasslands, as well as taxpayer-financed predator control, and who knows what else. Meanwhile they own 12,866 acres of land plus other assets like homes, equipment, and other valuables making them multi-millionaires who have no shame about taking taxpayer subsidies from the very government they continuously rail against.

The Hammonds are a genuine threat to our public lands. They intimidate public employees and violate the regulations designed to protect public property. Public lands are part of our national patrimony that are being trashed for the private profit of individuals like the Hammonds. The only public property the Hammonds should have access to is in the public prison where they are serving time for their blatant disregard for our public lands heritage.

George Wuerthner has published 36 books including Wildfire: A Century of Failed Forest Policy. He serves on the board of the Western Watersheds Project.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
Wayne Clark
A Reset Button for Political America
Chris Welzenbach
“The Death Ship:” An Allegory for Today’s World
Uri Avnery
Being There
Peter Lee
The Deep State and the Sex Tape: Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, and Thurgood Marshall
Patrick Hiller
Guns Against Grizzlies at Schools or Peace Education as Resistance?
Randy Shields
The Devil’s Real Estate Dictionary
Ron Jacobs
Singing the Body Electric Across Time
Ann Garrison
Fifty-five Years After Lumumba’s Assassination, Congolese See No Relief
Christopher Brauchli
Swing Low Alabama
Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones
La Realidad: the Realities of Anti-Mexicanism
Jon Hochschartner
The Five Least Animal-Friendly Senate Democrats
Pauline Murphy
Fighting Fascism: the Irish at the Battle of Cordoba
Susan Block
#GoBonobos in 2017: Happy Year of the Cock!
Louis Proyect
Is Our Future That of “Sense8” or “Mr. Robot”?
Charles R. Larson
Review: Robert Coover’s “Huck out West”
David Yearsley
Manchester-by-the-Sea and the Present Catastrophe
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail