Zinke Helps Ranchers Who Inspired Bundy Standoff Get Grazing Rights Back

FILE - In this Jan. 2, 2016, file photo, rancher Dwight Hammond Jr. greets protesters outside his home in Burns, Ore. Dwight and Steven Hammond who were convicted in 2012 of intentionally setting fires on public land... FILE - In this Jan. 2, 2016, file photo, rancher Dwight Hammond Jr. greets protesters outside his home in Burns, Ore. Dwight and Steven Hammond who were convicted in 2012 of intentionally setting fires on public land in Oregon have had their grazing rights restored. The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, in one of his last actions before resigning, ordered the renewal of a 10-year grazing permit for Hammond Ranches Inc., run by Hammond and his son Steven Hammond. The decision was dated Jan. 2, 2019, but wasn't sent out until this week. (Les Zaitz/The Oregonian via AP, File) MORE LESS

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Two ranchers who were convicted in 2012 of intentionally setting fires on public land in Oregon have had their grazing rights restored.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, in one of his last actions before resigning, ordered the renewal of a 10-year grazing permit for Hammond Ranches Inc., run by Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son Steven Hammond. The decision was dated Jan. 2, but it wasn’t sent out until this week.

Zinke ordered the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to renew the grazing permit through 2024.

Last year President Donald Trump pardoned the Hammonds, whose case had prompted the armed occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in 2016, led by two sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy.

In February 2014, the federal government had rejected the Hammonds’ renewal application, citing their criminal convictions for setting fire to public land.

“I find the pardons constitute unique and important changed circumstances since the BLM made its decision,” Zinke wrote in the decision.

The Hammonds had been convicted in 2012 of arson on land where they had grazing rights for their cattle. They were ordered back to prison in early 2016 to serve out five-year sentences in a case that incited right-wing militias and inspired the 41-day armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which abuts the Hammond family ranch.

But on July 10, 2018, Trump pardoned the father and son.

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