County Where Oregon Standoff Rages Is Most Government-Dependent In State

January 18, 2016 10:09 a.m.

Harney County, Oregon—the site of a two-week long, militia-led standoff against the federal government—is “the most government-dependent county in Oregon,” according to a report from the New York Times.

The 2013 statistic, which is the most recent available, reveals that the relationship between the county’s approximately 7,000 residents and the government is more complicated than standoff leader Ammon Bundy admits in front of television cameras.

According to a Times story on the sagging economy in Harney County, government jobs at prisons, schools and the very wildlife refuge occupied by Bundy and his brigade form the life blood of a community that once leaned more heavily on private industry. Today, the Times reports that 60 percent of the income in the county comes from “the public sector.”

The state of Delaware could fit four times comfortably in the sprawling lands that make up Harney County, which once leaned heavily on the timber industry for good paying jobs. Since the 1980s, most of the mills have closed around Burns, the town closest to the wildlife reduge.

According to the Times, the economic woes of living on the high plains in Oregon have become so devastating that Harney County has lost 4 percent of its people since 2010.

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