The Harassment of the Hammonds – Act I – Scene 2 – October 24 1986 – March 20 1987

The Harassment of the Hammonds
Act I – Decade of the Eighties
Scene 2 – October 24, 1986 – March 20, 1987

hammond-family all

Gary Hunt
Outpost of Freedom
March 1, 2016

Note: Numbers shown thus, {nn} refer to PDF page numbers in the “Hammond Legal Trailing Part I” PDF file.

On October 24, 1986, Dwight Hammond met with the Tom Downs, Dave Johnson, and the Assistant Refuge Manager, to discuss stray cattle and “trailing”, the means of herding to move cattle from one location to another. Dwight discussed his practice during round up, and what he did with strays that were collected with his herd. {2-3} He didn’t think that he should notify people when he trailed his cattle, based upon “past prior rights and/or privileges”.

Apparently, a new policy was being implemented that placed even more obligations on an already hard working rancher.

When on the Refuge land, Dwight would allow his cattle to rest, and when they did, they grazed on grass that was not on his allotment. A Telephone Conversation Record, dated Feb. 13, 1987 {4}, provides notes of the conversation, within the agencies.

In a letter from Lawrence W. De Bates, Assistant Regional Director, Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) {10}, dated February 20, 1987, based upon a meeting on the 17th, the follow-up implies that Dwight must move his cattle at a pace determined by the Refuge, and they should not graze off the assigned trail. He further defends the fencing within the Refuge “for wildlife management purposes”. Finally, he requires Dwight to get a permit to trail his cattle on the reserve. This is the first instance of requiring a permit to trail his cattle.

Dwight Hammond replies to the letter from De Bates, in a letter dated March 7, 1987 {14-15}. He explains that they had gone all of the way to Portland, with maps, to explain to De Bates what the problem was. He said that since the Refuge had stated that it had to be resolved at District, that the meeting was the only way to resolve the problem. He also questions whether De Bates was really paying attention, as he appeared to not understand just what the problem was. He then explains the problem, again, by stating:

WE WERE NOT ASKING FOR YOUR ASSISTANCE CONCERNING ANY GRAZING SEASON, OR TRAILING THROUGH THE REFUGE, BUT CONCERNING ACCESS AROUND THE PERIMETER OF THE REFUGE WHICH WE PERSONALLY HAVE USED FOR 23 YEARS, AND WHICH THE GENERAL PUBLIC HAS USED SINCE AT LEAST 1877, AND WHICH ACCESS IS THE ONLY GEOGRAPHICALLY POSSIBLE ACCESS AROUND THE REFUGE ON THAT SIDE, AND WHICH YOUR AGENCY BLOCKED BY CONSTRUCTING A FENCE OR FENCES ACROSS THE LAND, PROHIBITING ACCESS TO OUR AND U. S. LANDS, IN VIOLATION OF YOUR OWN REFUGE MANUAL.

WE REALIZE THAT OUR LAWS GIVE YOU THE “RIGHT” TO FENCE YOUR BOUNDARIES, BUT WE FEEL THAT IT IS CERTAINLY NOT THE INTENTION OF THIS FREE, DEMOCRATIC COUNTRY TO BE SO SINGLE-MINDED AS TO CUT AN EXISTING RANCH IN TWO, MAKING IT VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO OPERATE AND THEREFORE PUTTING US OUT OF BUSINESS.

YOUR FINAL PARAGRAPH IS VERY DISAPPOINTING TO US ALSO, AS IT FURTHER AMPLIFIES OUR SENTIMENTS THAT YOU ARE TRYING TO REMOVE PERMITTEES FROM THE REFUGE FOR ANY REASON. OUR PROBLEM HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH OUR “PERMIT” ON THE MALHEUR NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, BUT AS A NEIGHBORING LAND-OWNER, CONCERNING THE UNREASONABLE AND UNBEARABLE POLICIES OF YOUR MANAGEMENT.

Dwight Hammond, in a letter to De Bates, dated March 12 {19-20}, tells of his meeting with George Constantino. He also explains the difficulty in working with people who seem to be “in the dark”.

I REQUEST THAT YOU, AT LEAST, ADVISE ME AS TO WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR PART OF THE COMING CALAMITY. IS IT YOUR MAINTENANCE MAN THAT FANTASIZES HIMSELF THE LOCAL FRENCHGLEN GESTAPO; OR YOUR LAW ENFORCEMENT PERSONNEL THAT STRAP ON THEIR SIDE ARMS TO PRANCE THROUGH OUR LOCAL, PEACE-LOVING, TAX PAYING, PIONEER COMMUNITIES (YOUR LIFE-BLOOD)?? THESE MEN MEET PEOPLE EVERY DAY WHO ARE HEIRS OF THE PEOPLE PUT OFF OF THE CHOICE GROUND IN THE COUNTY, TO RAISE AND PROTECT WILDLIFE. IN REALITY, PRODUCTION HAS DIMINISHED STEADILY, SINCE THE FEDERAL TAKE-OVER AND CONDEMNATION, EVEN BY ADMISSION OF YOUR OWN AGENCY PEOPLE AND PUBLICATIONS. I BELIEVE THIS REFUGE HAS IN EXCESS OF 180,000 ACRES, YET YOU PUT GREAT EMPHASIS ON SUDDENLY HAVING EXTREME INTEREST IN HABITAT, ETC., ON APPROXIMATELY 500 ACRES OF DRY, ROCKY HILLSIDE THAT HAS NEVER BEEN FENCED, UNTIL IT WAS DISCOVERED THAT I COULD NOT GEOGRAPHICALLY CROSS MY RANCH WITHOUT ACCESS THROUGH YOUR DEEDED LAND, WHICH I HAVE DONE FOR 23 YEARS, WITH NO PROBLEMS, AND THE HARNEY COUNTY MAPS VERIFY THIS PASSAGE AS HAVING BEEN USED SINCE AT LEAST 1877. – – OR, IS IT GEORGE CONSTANTINO, OR ARE YOU ACCEPTING FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THIS UPCOMING NO-WIN SITUATION, FOR ALL OF US, AND ARE YOUR SUPERIORS AWARE?

I AM GOING ACROSS, WITHOUT A PERMIT (MAYBE ONLY ONCE, I REALIZE), FOR YOU PEOPLE HAVE CREATED AN UNLIVABLE SITUATION FOR US, TOTALLY AGAINST YOUR OWN REGULATIONS, AS I HAVE ALSO TALKED TO MY ATTORNEYS. THEY HAVE ADVISED ME THAT I WAS MORALLY RIGHT, AND THAT THE LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA WERE NOT INTENDED TO DO TO ME WHAT YOU PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO DO.

THIS MESS COULD ALL BE AVOIDED, TODAY, AND FOR TOMORROW, AS THE PROBLEM IS NOT GOING TO GO AWAY, BY USING THE OLD BOUNDARY FENCE, AS IT WAS ESTABLISHED WHEN THE REFUGE CAME INTO BEING. THIS MUST HAVE BEEN THE REASON FOR THE ORIGINAL BOUNDARY FENCE CONSTRUCTION WHERE IT WAS.

I DID ADVISE GEORGE’S SECRETARIES THAT I WOULD PHONE AHEAD WHEN I WOULD BE CROSSING THE REFUGE, TO REQUEST THE PRESENCE OF OUR LOCAL SHERIFF, BECAUSE HE WAS GOING TO BE NEEDED. YOU HAVE PUSHED ME THE TOTAL LIMIT!!

I WISH YOU WOULD LOOK AHEAD FAR ENOUGH TO GIVE YOUR PERSONNEL THE PROPER DICTATION FOR WHEN I START ACROSS THIS AREA IN MY USUAL MANNER.

I REALIZE THAT I AM SEEMING VERY NARROW-MINDED, ONE-SIDED, AND TOTALLY OBLIVIOUS TO THE LAW, BUT I HAVE LIVED WITH THIS EXTREME INCONVENIENCE FOR SEVERAL RECENT YEARS. YOUR NEW FENCE BEING IN PLACE, DOESN’T SEEM TO BE ENOUGH ANY MORE, AND YOU ARE NOT SATISFIED. AS TO GOING THROUGH THE “LEGAL” CHANNELS, THIS IS PROHIBITIVE, AS YOU ARE FIGHTING ME WITH MY OWN DOLLARS, AND I CANNOT AFFORD IT, OR WIN. HOWEVER, I WOULD STILL LIKE TO MAKE ONE LAST OFFER, AND WOULD PAY THE EXPENSES FOR YOUR TRAVEL, ROOM AND BOARD, TO COME AND PERSONALLY, PHYSICALLY OBSERVE THE PROBLEM, OR A REPRESENTATIVE OF YOUR CHOICE THAT WOULD HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO MAKE A REASONABLE DECISION, TAKING ALL FACTORS INTO CONSIDERATION. PREFERABLE THIS WOULD NOT BE GEORGE CONSTANTINO, BECAUSE, AS OF OUR MEETING THIS MORNING, HE IS STILL, IN MY WIFE’S AND MY OPINION, IN “THE DARK”, NOT KNOWING THE COMPLICATIONS OF THE SITUATION, OR EVEN AFTER ALL THIS TIME AND UPHEAVAL, THE LOCATIONS OF THE FENCES.

IN PRIOR COMMUNICATIONS, YOU HAVE USED THIS PROBLEM AS A THREAT AND ALSO, IT HAS BEEN PUT TO ME IN THE OFFICE AS A THREAT AGAINST ME IN REGARDS TO OUR REFUGE PERMIT. WE WOULD LIKE TO MARE IT CLEAR THAT THIS PROBLEM HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH OUR BEING A PERMITTEE ON THE MALHEUR NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, AND IF I AM, IN FACT, REMOVED, AS A RESULT, AS YOU AND GEORGE HAVE THREATENED, THE PROBLEM WILL BE GREATLY AMPLIFIED.

P.S. NOTE – THIS IS IRRELEVANT TO THE PROBLEM AT HAND; BUT, MAYBE IT COULD BE ONE OF THE REASONS I WAS SO VERBAL WITH MR. CONSTANTINO. IN DEC., 1986, THE FIELD THAT MY CATTLE WERE USING AS A PERMIT IN THE REFUGE, HAD REACHED THE OPTIMUM LEVEL OF USE, ACCORDING TO REFUGE PERSONNEL, FOR BIRD HABITAT, AND I WAS ASKED TO MOVE MY CATTLE OUT EARLY. AT THAT TIME, I ASKED TO USE OTHER FEED ON THE REFUGE, AND WAS TOLD THERE WAS NO OTHER FEED AVAILABLE TO BE USED; HOWEVER, AS OF THE DATE OF THIS LETTER, THERE ARE STILL OTHER CATTLE ON THE REFUGE. I MUST DRIVE BY THIS ANYTIME I GO ANYPLACE FROM MY HOME, AND IT CAN’T HELP BUT CREATE A FEELING OF BIGOTED INJUSTICE. WE ARE TOLD THE ABSOLUTE DATE FOR REMOVAL OF ALL CATTLE ON THE REFUGE IS JANUARY 31. THIS IS MARCH 19. THESE CATTLE (NOT OURS) HAVE BEEN “TRAILING ” THROUGH THE REFUGE FOR A MONTH????

Dwight suggests that the Refuge, FWS, and the individuals involved are ignoring the problem, as well as violating their own regulations. He also points out that he is being held to these new restrictions while the cattle of others are allowed to graze, even after the close of grazing season.

The file has a hand written note and response, dated March 18 {23}, regarding Hammond’s letters. It also refers to “Constantino’s Report”, though that report is not in the file.

De Bates sends a letter to the Hammonds {25}, March 19, explaining that they are trying to find a reasonable solution, and that he is sending Sandy Wilbur to Malheur and that they should get together and seek that solution. Interestingly, a paragraph from that letters begins to give us insight into the priorities over the 186,000-acre preserve. It appears to “not set back vegetation rehabilitation” has become a serious concern in a “Wildlife Refuge”.

We acknowledge your need and right to trail cattle through the refuge over the historic route we discussed when you were here in the office. All we are asking of you is that you move your cattle through as quickly as possible so as not to use forage allotted to others and so as not to set back vegetation rehabilitation along Bridge Creek. We are not asking anything of you that we do not ask of other refuge users. It isn’t our intention to threaten anyone; our goal is only to achieve proper management of the resources entrusted to us.

Apparently, some headway has been made, as George Constantino sends the Hammonds a letter dated March 20 {30-32}. In the letter, it appears that there was a bit of concession on the part of the Refuge.

This letter is to document my verbal authorization to you to trail through the Refuge under the following conditions:

You may trail your cattle through the Bridge Creek area, entering, trailing through, and leaving the Refuge along the route marked in blue on the attached map.

We want the entire trailing operation to be done in one day.

Finally, you are to notify us at least 24 hours in advance before you begin trailing, so we may monitor your trailing operation.

However, Constantino manages to chastise and threaten Hammond, stating that unless they comply with the rules, they will not have the right, next year, to move their cattle without a permit.

To Be Continued

 

The Harassment of the Hammonds – Act I – Scene 1 – Introduction

 

The Harassment of the Hammonds – Act I – Scene 3 – April 2, 1987 – April 15, 1987

The Harassment of the Hammonds – Act I – Scene 4 – May 6, 1987 – April 22, 1988

The Harassment of the Hammonds – Act I – Decade of the Eighties- Scene 5 – May 2, 1988 – May 9, 1988

The Harassment of the Hammonds – Act II – Decade of the Nineties – Scene 1 – Feb. 18, 1994 – June 9, 1994

The Harassment of the Hammonds – Act II – Decade of the Nineties – Scene 2 – June 28, 1994 – Feb. 22, 1997

The Harassment of the Hammonds – Act II – Decade of the Nineties – Scene 3 – Feb. 28, 1997 – May 21, 1997

The Harassment of the Hammonds – Act II – Decade of the Nineties – Scene 4 – May 22, 1997

The Harassment of the Hammonds – Act II – Decade of the Nineties – Scene 5 – June 30, 1997 – Aug. 4, 1997

The Harassment of the Hammonds – Act II – Decade of the Nineties – Scene 6 – Feb. 25, 1998 – Jan. 12, 2004

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4 Responses to “The Harassment of the Hammonds – Act I – Scene 2 – October 24 1986 – March 20 1987”

  1. HIGH PLAINS says:

    Gary, This is good investigative reporting, going back to original, prime sources like real research is supposed to do.

    OregonLive and the Oregonian newspapers [both owned by the same company out of New York], are classic examples of yellow journalism, rag papers that
    print only emotional, one sided slants.

    Hopefully, you have the documents that show Joe Mazzoni’s treatment of the Hammonds’, and the March 12, 1987 documentation where BLM admits they want
    Bridge Creek under Malheur Refuge control. Evidently George Constantino isn’t eligible for sainthood, either.

    Was it Forest Cameron in the Sept. 10, 1987 document that said his implementation of ‘actions’ would not result in controversy, nor affect
    community cohesion, nor affect residents, nor restrict public access?

    Please remember to put in Robert Shallenger’s comments as Deputy ARD, (April 22, 1988), that the fence was put up without consulting anyone, and
    a series of actions (were taken), that appear to unfairly single out the Hammonds.

  2. Becky Equine Rescuer says:

    Love this article! Finally someone going back into the past to bring what is currently happening to the light of the people.

  3. […] The Harassment of the Hammonds – Act I – Scene 2 – October 24 1986 – March 2… […]

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