Update on Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

Last edited 09/29/2021

After more than 40 days, the illegal occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon has ended.  I want to express my sincere thanks to the Federal, State, and local law enforcement authorities who worked around the clock to resolve this situation as quickly and safely as possible.  

The FBI, in its role as the lead law enforcement agency on scene, demonstrated tremendous patience and professionalism in bringing about a peaceful resolution to the occupation.  I am enormously proud of our DOI law enforcement personnel, who worked closely with the law enforcement community to support the response to the takeover and help keep our personnel safe.  We will continue to cooperate with DOJ, the FBI, and other law enforcement agencies as the investigation and prosecutions move forward to hold accountable those who broke the law.

I recognize and appreciate this has been an incredibly disruptive and distressing time for our employees and their families in the area, as well as the entire Harney County community of which they are a part.  I also know this incident, and ones that have come before, cause deep concern across the entire Department.

Over the course of my career, I have traveled on multiple occasions to Eastern Oregon and have met with ranchers who make a living working these lands.  As recently as last year, I was in Oregon to celebrate the collaborative relationship between ranchers and public land managers, both of whom value these lands and are partnering to sustain working western rangelands for future generations.  

The successful partnership in Harney County is just one example of our work with local communities across this great Nation, and those important efforts must continue while the community works to heal from this terrible situation and get back to normal.

While many of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and Bureau of Land Management offices in the immediate area were closed during the illegal occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, our employees continued to perform their duties remotely, even as we worked alongside law enforcement authorities to monitor and ultimately resolve the situation.  

Finally, our foremost priority continues to be the safety and security of our employees as they get back to the business of serving the American public.

I am absolutely committed to maintaining a safe work environment that allows employees to uphold the laws of the United States and carry out our mission of responsible public land and water stewardship for the benefit of all Americans. 

There is tremendous support for the work we do on a daily basis, even as we recover from the unfortunate situation at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. 

As the healing begins, I thank our employees, law enforcement, county, State and Federal leaders for your partnership, your understanding, and the work we will continue together into the future.

In the face of difficult challenges, we have shown that we can persevere and make progress by working together, in close partnership with those who have called these lands home for generations.

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