The Harassment of the Hammonds – Act III – Finale – a long train of abuses and usurpation

The Harassment of the Hammonds
Act III – Finale – “a long train of abuses and usurpations…”

a long train of abuses

Gary Hunt
Outpost of Freedom
August 3, 2016

Upon examination of the government’s trail of paperwork spanning a period of nearly two decades , between the Hammonds and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge (MNWR), it is apparent that they were being persecuted by the federal government for simply insisting upon exercising their historical right to trail cattle. This began long before the controlled burn in 2002 and the backfire in 2006 that resulted in them being sentenced to five years in federal prison.

What is plainly “a long train of abuses” has been well documented by the documents obtained by those who made copies of public records (not classified) that were found at the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Though there were many more incidents, this review of the paper trail of correspondence between the Hammonds and the FWS , as well as other intergovernmental records, clearly demonstrates that abuse. This provides us a bit of transparency to the federal government’s treatment of those who had every right to their historical usage of those public lands.

On October 26, Dwight Hammond notified Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) at MNWR, some 30 miles south of Burns, Oregon, and explained that historically, he did not have to notify anyone to “trail” his cattle (for you city folk, this means herding cattle along a route from one point to another). FWS attempted to impose a requirement that they be notified as to the number of cattle, the route, the time, and the date of such movements. The new policy also disallowed grazing off of the trail while the cattle were being moved, held Dwight to a schedule by FWS, and demanded that he obtain a permit from them for each move.

During March of 1987, Dwight traveled to Portland, taking maps and explaining to higher-level bureaucrats the problems with the implementation of this new “policy” that was contrary to his historical rights. Subsequently, Dwight wondered whether anyone at FWS even paid attention to anything he had to say. Revealingly, one bureaucrat admitted that the government acknowledged his right to trail cattle through the MNWR over the historic route, yet, he still insisted that Dwight trail his cattle as quickly as possible so as not to damage the rehabilitation of vegetation along Bridge Creek.

Accusations that Dwight had been “verbally abusive” against MNWR personnel cropped up the following month, particularly revolving around the issue of the government fencing, resulting in limiting access to certain areas, including water. Over the course of the subsequent months, right into 1988, internal MNWR memos revealed that some of the bureaucrats realized they contributed to the “soured personal relationships,” which created a climate of “serious mutual distrust.” Flip-flopping on whether the Hammonds enjoyed a right or privilege to trail their cattle, constructing a boundary fence that impeded such trailing, which admittedly increased costs, were but just two elements that exacerbated an already tense relationship between the Hammond ranchers and the MNWR personnel. The long and short of it is that the MNWR bureaucrats unilaterally imposed their interpretation of the “regulations” upon the Hammonds with little warning, and then acted as if the Hammonds were being “uncooperative” for simply insisting that they abide by the previous agreement for conducting operations.

In 1994, the Hammonds received a letter from the MNWR manager stating that a “special use permit” will not be reissued to the Hammonds because their lack of “compliance” with Refuge “regulations” over the past several years, despite the fact that there had been a six year hiatus once MNWR personnel had realized they had overstepped their bounds. Dwight appeals the manager’s decision, arguing that there was a failure to provide full disclosure of the circumstances leading to the denial of not only the permit, but also all FOIA requests. Two months later in April, a higher-level bureaucrat denies Dwight’s appeal on the grounds that he made threats against MNWR personnel. A flurry of notices and appeals are sent out for the remainder of the year, going all the way up to the Department of the Interior; parallel to all of this, a federal Circuit Court awarded the Hammonds right to the use of the Bird Waterhole.

Unknown criminal charges against the Hammonds were proposed by the MNWR manager to be dropped by an Assistant United States Attorney for events that occurred on August 3, 1994 provided that the Hammonds not sue FWS and that they agree to notify MNWR personnel when they intended to trail their cattle, which they still, inexplicably, need a special use permit for. Obviously, the precedent of Revised Statute 2477 recognizes the historic right of the Hammonds to trail their cattle; this is further bolster by the Ash, Wetzel, and Miller Affidavit.

Whether it be the subsequent removal of culverts, or hauling gravel from a pit, this history of the Hammond’s relationship with the federal government is indicative of the notorious failure of a system that allows such broad discretion to bureaucrats. The MNWR and FWS administrative agencies tried to convert a right of the Hammonds to trail their cattle into a privilege, and when both the legal research and court decisions supported the Hammonds’ position, the bureaucrats scurried like frightened rats in their attempt to demonize the law-abiding ranchers.

The story of the Hammonds prior to the fires reveals the federal administrative agencies use of “lawfare”* to restrict and infringe historic rights involving public lands. Although some might insist that the Hammonds could have avoided their current fate by selling the ranch and “getting out of Dodge,” would this really be the American tradition that made this once great nation — to just pull up stakes at the slightest difficulty? It should come as no surprise, now, that Dwight and Steven Hammond’s status as political prisoners is indicative of what might easily befall many other Americans, should they fail to force the government back to its constitutional limitations.

* The use of laws to conduct a form of warfare against the rights of individuals.


* * * * * * * * * * * * *



  1. The Harassment of the Hammonds – Act I (Decade of the Eighties), Scene 1: Introduction
  2. The Harassment of the Hammonds – Act I (Decade of the Eighties), Scene 2: October 24, 1986 – March 20, 1987
  3. The Harassment of the Hammonds – Act I (Decade of the Eighties), Scene 3: April 2, 1987 – April 15, 1987
  4. The Harassment of the Hammonds – Act I (Decade of the Eighties), Scene 4: May 6, 1987 – April 22, 1988
  5. The Harassment of the Hammonds – Act I (Decade of the Eighties), Scene 5: May 2, 1988 – May 9, 1988
  6. The Harassment of the Hammonds – Act II (Decade of the Nineties), Scene 1: Feb. 18, 1994 – June 9, 1994
  7. The Harassment of the Hammonds – Act II (Decade of the Nineties), Scene 2: June 28, 1994 – January 22, 1997
  8. The Harassment of the Hammonds – Act II (Decade of the Nineties), Scene 3: February 28, 1997 – May 21, 1997
  9. The Harassment of the Hammonds – Act II (Decade of the Nineties), Scene 4: May 22, 1997
  10. The Harassment of the Hammonds – Act II (Decade of the Nineties), Scene 5: June 30, 1997 – Aug. 4, 1997
  11. The Harassment of the Hammonds – Act II (Decade of the Nineties), Scene 6: Feb. 26, 1998 – Jan. 12, 2004


  1. Paul Niblock says:

    Thank you, Gary, for compiling all of this information and making it available here. I have shared it and hope others will as well. I am frustrated by the lack of interest, in general, of the masses. Unfortunately, people won’t care until it affects them.

    • ghunt says:

      My decision to go to Burns was predicated on access to these records. Unfortunately, when LaVoy was murdered, it got cut short.
      I had an obligation to those who funded my trip to get them sorted and then write them up.
      I just hope that I did a good job, so that what the Hammonds went through is clear to those who will take thew time to read them.

  2. […] that use is commercial in nature), which has been built on the soil they already own in common? Public lands, […]

Leave a Reply