Oregon governor to feds: End occupation at wildlife refuge

Posted at 7:00 AM, Jan 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-21 09:00:14-05
By Doug Criss and Tina Burnside


(CNN) — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has had enough.

Brown publicly vented her frustration Wednesday with the armed group of protesters who’ve taken over a federal wildlife refuge in Harney County, in the southeastern corner of her state. But she’s also fed up with federal officials’ response to the occupation and urged them to put an end to it.

“The residents of Harney County have been overlooked and underserved by federal officials’ response thus far,” Brown said during a news conference. “This spectacle of lawlessness must end. And until Harney County is free of it I will not stop insisting that federal officials enforce the law.”

Rising costs

And keeping an eye on the occupiers apparently isn’t cheap. The price tag on the nearly three-week-old occupation is costing Oregon about $100,000 a week, Brown said. She wants reimbursement from the federal government for those mounting costs.

Kristen Grainger, Brown’s director of communications, said costs related to the occupation included everything from bringing in extra law enforcement to food.

“In order to maintain public safety … multiple local law enforcement entities from around the state, as well as Oregon State Police Troopers, are coordinating with the Harney County sheriff to provide additional officers,” Grainger said in the statement. “The estimate of $100,000 a week represents the costs of labor, including overtime, travel reimbursement, lodging and meals for the officers.”

It started with a march

The group of protesters, lead by Ammon Bundy, has occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge since January 2 to protest federal land policies.

Bundy, son of controversial Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, and others started out protesting the sentencing of Dwight Hammond and his son Steven, two ranchers convicted of arson on federal lands in Oregon.

But a march supporting the Hammonds led to the armed occupation of the refuge, with occupiers decrying what they call government overreach when it comes to federal lands.

CNN’s Dave Alsup contributed to this story.

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