The armed group now occupying the Refuge apparently believes that the only uses for public land are mining, logging, ORVs, and cattle. In this belief they are a tiny minority. There are millions of acres already open to those activities but only a relatively small portion is protected for wildlife and other scientific, preservationist, and non-motorized recreational activities. Do we all want to see those opened to destruction? I will not even get into the issue of the Paiuteâ€™s rights to the land.
This group has already committed a broad range of crimes. Not least of these under the U.S. Code appears to be Seditious Conspiracy.
They have torn down fences and announced their intention to release cattle onto the sensitive Refuge. The damage that will cause will take decades or longer to recover from. Some damage, to archeological and spiritually important sites, would never be healed.
While the various federal agencies involved understandably want to avoid what could devolve into a firefight, allowing this to continue and for these crimes to go unpunished is not acceptable.
This situation is a direct result of the Bundy Ranch standoff in 2014. Besides the original, and still ongoing offenses, federal officials were directly threatened by armed militia. Yet to my knowledge not a single person has been arrested let alone tried for these crimes despite abundant eyewitness and video evidence. This cannot become a pattern.
The appropriate federal agencies must take action to end the occupation and prosecute all those involved.