By Wyatt Bechtel | January 20, 2019
A photo of the Hammond family in happier times before Steven (second from left) and Dwight (fourth from left) were put in prison for setting fires on public land they graze. © Courtesy of Hammond Family
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has restored grazing permits for the Hammond family from Oregon after losing the right to graze following federal charges that were later pardoned.
The announcement was made on Jan. 28 that Hammond Ranches would be able to graze their BLM allotments again. The BLM had stripped the right to graze after Dwight and Steven Hammond were convicted of felony arson in 2012. They were sentenced to five years imprisonment under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.
The Hammond’s imprisonment later led to the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, in 2016. The occupation resulted in a 40 day standoff between law enforcement and protestors.
After more pushback and pleas from the ranching community for their release, Dwight and Steven Hammond were eventually pardoned by President Trump on July 10, 2018.
News of the Hammond’s grazing permits being reinstated was welcomed by cattle ranching organizations. In a joint statement, Public Lands Council (PLC) President Bob Skinner and National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) President Kevin Kester said the following:
“In light of a full and unconditional presidential pardon, the reissuance of the Hammond Ranches’ grazing permits is the final step in righting the egregious injustices the Hammonds faced. This is the culmination of years of effort on behalf of this industry to restore a family's livelihood. We speak on behalf of the livestock producers nationwide in saying thank you to Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and his team who worked to correct the hardships this family faced.”
Those thoughts were echoed by Ethan Lane, Senior Executive Director of PLC and NCBA Federal Lands.
“The Hammonds have asked me to convey their appreciation to Acting Secretary Bernhardt and the Bureau of Land Management for reissuing their grazing permits. They are looking forward to digging into the specifics of the reinstatement and, finally, getting back to the business of ranching,” Lane said.