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

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


Gary Hunt
Outpost of Freedom
June 20, 2016

This series is not about the two fires and subsequent conviction of Dwight and Steven Hammond.  It is about the abuse, by government agencies, in the two decades prior to the first fire.

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


On February 25, 1998, Steven Hammond wrote a letter to the Oregon State Police regarding trespass and hunting in a no hunting area {351-352}. It appears that the OSP had stopped issuing citations to violators after speaking to Refuge personnel. This led to a follow up letter to Dick Munoz, FWS, Portland, addressing the concern and the failure of Malheur FWS to enforce the hunting regulations {353-354}.

On May 12, 1998, Dave Stanbrough faxes Munoz telling him he will draft a response to Steven Hammond’s letter {356}. Munoz implies that the decision not to prosecute the trespassing hunters was in the hands of the OSP, not the Refuge {357-358}.

July 6, 1999, the Bureau of Land Management in Hines, in a letter to Dwight Hammond, advises him that, in response to Dwight’s request of June 9, 1999 (No copy of the request in the obtained documents), they are denying him permission to use his own fencing to control cattle crossing Bridge Creek to get to the Mud Creek Allotment {359-360}. Dave Ward, “Rangeland Management Specialist” in this correspondence.

[Note: This is not the David Ward, Sheriff of Harney County.]

In an undated memo, from Anne Sittauer, MNWR, to Dave Stanborough, a third party report of a meeting on site between Dave Ward and Steven Hammond was supposed to have resulted in a written report by Ward {361-362}.  Steven never received the report but was told that he could not be allowed to trail his cattle to get to the “next allotment”.  Steven did agreed to give 24 hours notice of trailing, but refused to sign any request to trail.

On March 18, 2002, Steven Hammond sends a letter to Dave Stanbrough, MNWR, regarding the removal of a culvert {363}:

Our current critical concern is the recent removal of the culvert in the crossing, making it increasingly harder for us to move our livestock through the area.

I expressed in our original meeting that we had cost shared in the installation of the Bridge Creek crossing; and, it was beneficial to the movement of our livestock, also benefiting the then management objectives of the refuge. This was to minimize the impact of livestock on the area and shorten the time spent crossing refuge property. We also discussed additional ways to minimize our impact on your management objectives; the need to maintain the fence leading up to the crossing.

Since that meeting, you or your staff have not communicated your changing management objectives regarding Hammond Ranches business.

This letter is to again encourage communication, to hopefully minimize conflict.

You need to remove the fence leading up to the Bridge Creek. Ultimately, removing the culvert necessary for the crossing has me questioning your intentions, understanding that you know this will inhibit our ability to enter our BLM permit and access private property, along with increase our time and impact on the refuge in traversing this critical access.

Hammond Ranches management has always advocated treating the land, wildlife, and it’s livestock in a humane and husbandry like manner. Your recent actions make that increasingly harder.

On March 25, 2002, Dave Stanbrough responds to Steven’s letter of March 18 (above) {365-366}:

As you may be aware, the Refuge is engaged in extensive work projects involving fish passage and screening. This includes Bridge Creek and Mud Creek as well as the Blitzen River. We are also having to deal with passage issues where pipes have been installed that pose barriers to fish passage and this includes constrictions which increase velocity flows that impede passage.

I believe it was last year that an Oregon State University fisheries group led by Dr. Hirum Lee set up an outdoor lab on Bridge Creek near the crossing to study redband trout. My recollection is that it was the research group that pointed out either current or potential passage problems at the crossing during certain flow rates, therefore, the pipe crossing was removed for biological reasons.

I have no information regarding any cost share projects with Hammond Ranches nor does any cooperative agreement exist that would be necessary to provide for any cost share project. It has been a practice here that a permittee may bear part or all of expenses like this but those expenses are then credited on the final haying or grazing bill. The final result is that the government bears the total project cost one way or another and as such would be sole government property. I am not aware of any provisions that would permit the co-ownership of any property on a Refuge.

The Refuge purpose, goals and objectives have not changed nor does the Refuge have any motive or management objective concerning Hammond Ranches business. I do recall our meeting and discussion concerning cattle trailing and fences. I don’t recall exactly which fence or fences may be at issue. It seems to me that there was an East/West fence that did not appear to have any functional purpose any longer. Never-the-less, in connection with our discussion, I drafted up a Memorandum of Understanding concerning fences and cattle crossing and started discussions with our Regional Attorney. She had some reservations about the MOU but then water issues at both Klamath NWR and Malheur NWR have taken priority and no further discussions have taken place.

Since then, there has been some passing discussions with BLM about a Cooperative agreement between the bureaus that would address terms and conditions for cattle trailing where such trailing is mutually linked. This would include cattle crossing the Refuge heading to BLM or cattle crossing BLM heading to the Refuge. This would eliminate any need for special permits or memorandums of understanding with individual permittees.

As far as impacts of removing the pipe on your cattle trailing operations, I have personally inspected the crossing at least twice after cattle have passed. The majority of cattle tracks clearly cross Bridge Creek both up stream and down stream from the pipe crossing, with very few crossing over the pipe. The creek crossing bottom is hard and the water is shallow and the Refuge staff has no difficulty and crossing it in a pickup truck.

Lastly, it is not our policy, or intent, to deny or impede cattle trailing to adjacent BLM allotments. It is also not our policy to suffer trespass or resource damage on the Refuge while accommodating the transit use. If I get the point and undertone of your letter correctly , you appear to be saying that the Refuge has caused a problem which will increase the difficulty in your cattle trailing operations, which in turn will take longer to cross cattle at Bridge Creek, which in turn will cause more environmental damage to that area and since the Refuge took the action, we are to blame.

I respectfully differ in opinion with you that our action causes the need for any significant delay in crossing by cattle, horses or vehicles thus increasing adverse impacts on the environment.

Our decision options were limited and fish passage solutions are expensive. It would not be cost effective to construct a passage structure on Bridge Creek for the limited use of the crossing, thus our decision to make it a low water crossing.

I believe the operative word here is “reasonableness” and I am more than reasonable in dealing with people and situations. Cattle trailing may go fast one year and slow the next year depending on a lot of variables that might affect cows, cowboys, horses or vehicles, not just whether a pipe crossing was removed or not.

We will continue to monitor all cattle trailing operations and will continue to be reasonable in our dealings with adjacent ranch operations with due consideration given to any particular situations that may arise from one year to the next.

A March 30, 2000 letter to Dwight and Susie Hammond from Miles R. Brown, Resource Manager for BLM, grants permission for Hammonds to use BLM roads to haul gravel from their pit {367}. Hammonds are advised that they use is “casual” and that they will have to repair any damage done by the hauling.

The final document in the files obtained from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, “Hammond Trailing” file is a letter from the Regional Chief, National Wildlife Refuge System, date January 12, 2004. It is a response to a letter referenced from Steven Hammond, dated September 22, 2003, though there is no copy of Steven’s letter in the file. However, in chastising the Hammonds, once again, she says, “a herd of Hammond cattle was seen unattended along Bridge Creek causing damage along the riparian area, and her [Donna Stovall, Refuge Manager] requirements ensure that all public activities occurring on Refuge lands, including trailing, be compatible with the primary purposes(s) for which the Refuge was established.” She then encourages him to work with the Refuge Manager to meet the “objectives of the Refuge”. Apparently, still, with no consideration of the Hammond’s historical and legal right to trail their cattle upon the Refuge.

– End of Act II –

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

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

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


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