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Biden officials block public grazing permits for incendiary ranchers pardoned by Trump

The Biden administration’s Bureau of Land Management has canceled a new license to graze on public land granted to two arsonist ranchers in Oregon pardoned by Donald Trump.

The arson attacks of Dwight Hammond and his son Steven for burning public lands were at the center of a 2016 armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, which led to a 41-day armed standoff with federal authorities. The assault was led by militant breeder brothers Ryan and Ammon Bundy.

Despite the record for violence, Trump’s Home Secretary David Bernhardt granted the Hammonds a new grazing permit on the last day of his tenure. The permit would have allowed ranchers’ cattle to use public land for 10 years.

The Biden administration blocked the permit on Friday, a day after environmental groups filed a lawsuit claiming the Trump administration ignored legal requirements, Oregon Public Radio reported. The Biden administration noted the same concerns in its permit cancellation notice.

The Hammonds were sentenced to a minimum five-year jail term in 2015. Steve Hammond’s nephew said his uncle handed out matches and asked members of a group of hunters to drop lighted matches on the ground to “set the whole country on fire.” apparently to cover up the illegal killing of deer on taxpayer lands. The flames burned 139 acres.

The Hammonds’ arson conviction led to the revocation of their old grazing license. Trump pardoned the Hammonds in 2018.

Jennifer Rokala, executive director of the Center for Western Priorities, denounced the pardon at the time and said that Trump “has once again sided with lawless extremists who believe that public land does not belong to everyone. Americans ”.

The Hammonds’ criminal record also includes death threats against federal officials and an arrest in 1994 for attempting to prevent federal workers from fencing a canal in Malheur.

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