Letters from the West

Birders, sportsmen hold rallies against armed refuge takeover

A man stands guard in a watch tower at sunrise at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore., on Wednesday, Jan. 6.
A man stands guard in a watch tower at sunrise at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore., on Wednesday, Jan. 6. AP

Sportsmen and women, environmental groups and bird watchers are participating in rallies across the Pacific Northwest to stand up for public lands and to protest the armed-takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore.

A rally is scheduled for noon Tuesday on the Capitol steps in Boise sponsored by the Boise Broadband, a local chapter of Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Western Watersheds Project, and others. Similar rallies are schedule the same day across Oregon sponsored by the Audubon Society.

"The Refuge is a birding mecca, home to hundreds of species of birds as they fly along the Pacific Flyway, and a favorite destination for Boise birders. We strongly condemn the bullies’ calls to privatize this regional gem," said Pam Conley, Boise Broadband Leader.

The two groups want to send a message to the government to" prosecute the bullies," they said in a notice. Public lands are part of America’s heritage and the government must enforce the laws that protect our public lands. Public lands management should not be done through bullying, intimidation, and armed anarchy, the groups said.

Kris Millgate, an outdoor writer and videographer from eastern Idaho with www.tightlinemedia.com was at the refuge last week were she took pictures and video of sportsmen and the occupiers which were published in the East Idaho News. She quoted a Bryan Huskey, outdoor photographer and sportsman from Boise, in her report.

“I grew up in central Oregon. I’ve lived in Idaho 15 years. [Malheur] is about halfway between here and there,” Huskey said. “I spend a lot of time fishing there. I spend a lot of time hunting there. I spend a lot of time just laying on my back listening to all the different birds.”

Ammon Bundy of Emmett and his brother Ryan Bundy, the sons of embattled Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy are leading the group of militia and other armed men who took over the refuge two weeks ago.

The issue of public lands has come up in the Presidential election and the upcoming Iowa caucuses with this editorial in the Des Moines Register. Perhaps the Idaho Primary will bring this issue to a head.

Rocky Barker: 208-377-6484, @RockyBarker

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