Protester: Oregon group wants local land control; FBI wants peaceful resolution

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Malheur National Wildlife Refuge - Google Earth

BURNS, Ore. (AP) — One of the protesters occupying a national wildlife refuge in Oregon says the ultimate goal is to turn the land over to local authorities so people can use it free of federal oversight.

Ryan Bundy — one of the sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who was involved in a 2014 standoff with the government over grazing rights — says the protesters want to “restore the rights to people so they can use the land and resources” for ranching, logging, mining and recreation.

Ryan Bundy spoke at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge south of Burns, Oregon. He says he and others are prepared to occupy the remote federal area indefinitely.

The protesters object to a prison sentence for local ranchers for burning federal land.

Ryan Bundy says the federal government has been “tromping on people’s rights and privileges and properties and livelihoods.”

Sen. Ron Wyden, who has been briefed by the FBI, says most local residents do not support the protesters.

FBI says it seeks ‘peaceful resolution’

BURNS, Ore. (AP) — The FBI says it’s working with local and state authorities to “bring a peaceful resolution to the situation” at a national wildlife refuge in Oregon.

It’s been taken over by armed protesters, who earlier took part in a rally over the prison sentences of two local ranchers.

The standoff is the latest chapter in a long-running dispute between some Westerners and the federal government over the use of public lands.

Dwight and Steven Hammond were convicted of arson three years ago for fires that burned on federal land in 2001 and 2006. They served their original sentences of three months and one year, but an appellate judge ruled in October that the terms were too short under federal minimum sentencing laws. Both men were ordered back to prison for four years each. They have said they plan to turn themselves in today.

Among those occupying the refuge are two sons of Cliven Bundy, who was involved in a standoff with the government last year over grazing rights in Nevada.

Ryan Bundy says he hopes to turn over the land to local authorities so people can use it free of federal oversight. He said he hopes the takeover will prompt others to take action across the country to seize control of federally managed land.

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