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Pine Creek Lake. Photo by Walker Stole
Oct 28 2016

Thank You, Public Lands Employees

After acquittal of Malheur militants, let’s acknowledge and celebrate public servants dedicated to our public lands

Featured, In the Media

Yesterday’s acquittal of seven involved in the armed occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge came as a shock and saddening disappointment to all Montanans who care about our public lands. Outrage over the verdict is understandably reverberating across social media today.

Many people, including all of us at MWA, are left feeling dismayed that our justice system could let such a blatant attack on our public lands and egregious threat to our public lands managers go unpunished. The decision obviously emboldens the Bundy clan, their followers, and other anti-public lands extremists to carry out more of these kinds of illegal actions against our public lands and against the people managing those lands.

The seven accused, which included Ammon and Ryan Bundy, were charged with conspiracy to impede federal employees from discharging their duties. Those employees included 120 Bureau of Land Management staff and 16 Fish and Wildlife staff who were forced to stay home during the 41-day armed occupation. The court decision presumes that employees could have gone about their work while the armed occupants blocked the entrance to the refuge, sat at their desks, rifled through their drawers, searched their computers, and, in the end, caused $1.7 million in damage to the refuge.

We encourage all Montanans to keep our public land managers in your thoughts and publically and privately thank them for the work they do.

The acquittal comes as a slap in the face of not only the public servants at Malheur who suffered during the occupation, but of the public servants at every other wildlife refuge, national park, national forest, and Bureau of Land Management field office across the country who probably feel a little less safe today.

We encourage all Montanans, therefore, to keep our public land managers in your thoughts and publically and privately thank them for the work they do. Their work is often thankless, and probably feels a lot more so today. Let them know that we appreciate their service and will rally to their defense if ever, God forbid, something like Malheur happens in Montana.

From all of us at MWA, we want to say thank you to our thousands of friends and neighbors who serve on behalf of our public lands and make our outdoor way of life possible. Please know that MWA remains committed to fighting against this dangerous, extremist movement to seize public lands from the American people, and we will work harder than ever to keep public lands in public hands.

- Brian Sybert, MWA executive director