PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The father and son of a prominent Oregon ranching family plan to surrender Monday to serve more time in prison for setting fires that spread to government lands they leased as cattle rangeland.
Seventy-three-year-old Dwight Hammond and 46-year-old Steven Hammond say they lit the fires in 2001 and 2006 to reduce the growth of invasive plants and protect their property from wildfires.
The two were convicted three years ago and served time, but a judge ruled the terms were too short. Federal lawyers prosecuted the ranchers under an anti-terrorism law that they say required a five-year minimum sentence.
The decision to again imprison the Hammonds has generated controversy in a rural part of the state. It's also playing into a long-simmering conflict between ranchers and the U.S. government over the use of federal land.
Armed protesters have taken over a federal building at an Oregon wildlife refuge.
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 — told The Associated Press Sunday 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. Ryan Bundy 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."