According to the Associated Press, two Oregon ranchers are going back to prison to serve additional time for having protected their land from massive destruction.
Seventy-three-year-old Dwight Hammond and 46-year-old Steven Hammond say they lit the fires in 2001 and 2006 to reduce the growth of invasive plants and protect their property from wildfires.
The brush burning was done on Bureau of Land Management land on which the Hammonds had grazing rights.
The re-sentencing awarded Dwight and Steven Hammond 5 year prison terms for committing arson on public land and revoked their grazing rights for two years.
The Hammond’s had already served much lighter sentences as a Federal judge had ruled 5 year sentences to be cruel and unjust punishment for simply burning brush to prevent wildfires.
The pair were subject to re-sentencing because the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals threw out their previous sentences as “too lenient” at the request of the Obama administration’s Federal prosecutors.
U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken compared the brush removal to “eco-terrorism.”
The conflict is increasing anti-government sentiment as the feds continue to go after small ranchers and miners over seemingly small incidents on public lands and some, like these militia members holding up in a federal building, believe these actions are to punish private landowners who refuse to sell their property to the government.
This action is eerily reminiscent of two recent BLM dust-ups. First was the Bundy ranch incident where the BLM forcibly removed Mr. Bundy’s cattle from government land where the rancher believed he had grandfathered grazing rights. The second was one where miners with grandfathered mining rights had to be protected by Oath Keepers to prevent the BLM from stealing their claim.
The Federal government has become increasingly oppressive in its approach to citizen’s use of taxpayer owned lands.