Trump pardons the Hammonds– extremist ranchers

President Trump pardoned Oregon ranchers Dwight Hammond and his son Steve. The pair were jailed for arson and were the inspiration for the take-over of Malheur NWR by the Bundy mob.

Trump’s pardon was based on lobbying by Oregon Congressman Greg Walden who characterized the Hammonds as “responsible ranchers” and portrayed them as victims of government overreach.

Walden sought to minimize the multiple crimes the Hammonds have committed by suggesting they had merely burned a bit more than a hundred acres of public land, something that he tried to compare to normal everyday range management by federal agencies. So what’s the problem?  The problem is that Walden is ignoring decades of violations committed by the Hammonds.

For instance, according to High Country News story, the Hammonds set numerous fires to public lands over a 28-year period, totaling tens of thousands of acres.

According to the US Attorney office, in 2001 the Hammonds set one fire to hide the fact that they had poached at least seven deer out of season. A hunting guide who witnessed the event was forced to leave his camp and flee for his life to avoid the flames. The fire burned 139 acres of public property and destroyed evidence of their poaching.

After they set the fire, again according to the US Attorney’s office, the Hammonds threatened bodily harm to a teenage relative and told him to keep his mouth shut about the fire.

In 2006 Steve Hammond set yet another arson fire that nearly overcame a BLM fire crew that was attempting to quell another blaze.

According to an article by Kathy Durbin in High Country News, the Hammonds were arrested in 1994 and charged with a felony for interfering with federal officials.

The charge had a three-year maximum sentence, but they only spent two nights in jail—after then Oregon Congressman Bob Smith intervened on their behalf.

After numerous violations of his grazing terms on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Dwight Hammond had his grazing permit revoked. In an affidavit from Special Investigator Earl Kisler, Hammond purposely disabled a bulldozer along the route of a fence line that was being constructed to keep their cows from trespassing on the refuge. When the fence crew showed up, Dwight Hammond leaped to the levers and suddenly lowered the blade “narrowly missing” another special agent.

After this incident, the refuge manager and others began to receive death threats over the phone. The refuge manager’s wife had to leave the area for fear of her life.

However, this was nothing new. According to a 1995 Village Voice article, Hammond made repeated death threats against refuge managers in 1986, 1988, and 1991, plus frequently engaged in verbal abuses towards other federal workers.

Among the many anonymous phone threats, the Village Voice reported the refuge manager received a call (it is not clear if this was from the Hammonds or others in the community) that promised to wrap the refuge manager’s 12-year-old son in barbed wire and shove him down a well.

Despite the Hammonds disdain for the federal government, according to the Environmental Working Group between 1995 and 2016 they gladly collected a minimum of $911,000 in direct crop subsidies and $500,000 in livestock subsidies from taxpayers, not to mention the below-cost grazing fees they enjoyed while feeding their cattle on public grasslands, as well as taxpayer-financed predator control.

Public lands are part of our national patrimony that is being trashed for the private profit of individuals like the Hammonds. The only public property the Hammonds should have access to is the public prison where they were serving time for their blatant disregard for our public lands heritage.

See Federal Court record of previous offenses go here

To see list of arson fires set by the Hammonds check out this link


  1. Gail Avatar

    This pardon is an outrage. I heard a journalist comment today that it’s also an insult to every federal Law Enforcement Officer in the country. It was suggested commuting their sentences might have been more acceptable than a complete pardon. Hopefully we’ll all save our energy and make a surprise pounce on voting booths.

  2. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    Was anything ever done about fines and restitution for the damage done at Malheur? Or did it fall on the taxpayers? I’m really not happy about arson on our public lands.

    I hope this isn’t another ‘let them get it out of their system’ approach. We know that fails.

  3. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    “Walden sought to minimize the multiple crimes the Hammonds have committed by suggesting they had ‘merely burned a bit more than a hundred acres of public land, something that he tried to compare to normal everyday range management by federal agencies’. [emphasis added’]

    Just what can you say about this? 🙁 So he tries to make it look like they’re doing us a favor.

  4. Yvette Avatar

    If you are White you have power.
    If you are a White male you have more power.
    If you are a White male with money your power is unstoppable in America.

    America. Built on stolen land by genocide supported by the policies and law of White men. One part of the definition of environmental justice is “one having the ability and opportunity to participate in the process of creating policy.”

    Little Feather and Red Dawn were not part of the people who developed the policy to allow the DAPL and NWP’s that made NEPA negligent.

    Little Feather and Red Dawn were sentenced to 57 months in federal prison in their part to fight the American policies of environmental injustice.

    White Ranchers are pardoned.
    White Ranchers are flown on a private jet from the prison.
    White terrorists occupying Malheur Wildlife Refuge while destroying artifacts, government property and dredging and filling of wetlands didn’t even merit having the electricity or water cut off. That is power. That is White power.

    Not surprised.
    Donald Trump is the result of those Whites who feel in their gut that their reign of almighty power is nearing its final decades.

    Donald Trump won’t last. There are thousands more young Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s out there. It is their future at stake, both politically and ecologically.

  5. Frank Krosnicki Avatar
    Frank Krosnicki

    Draining the swamp is killing we the people, our lands, and our animals.


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George Wuerthner