Malheur: NWF, Affiliate letter to Sec. Jewell and AG Lynch

January 29, 2016

 On January 29, 2016 National Wildlife Federation and Affiliates including CWF sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and to Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell re Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.  See below:

 

 

 NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION® 

National Advocacy Center 

1990 K Street NW, Suite 430 

Washington, DC 20004 

202-797-6800 

www.nwf.org 

 

January 29, 2016 

The Honorable Sally Jewell 

United States Secretary of the Interior 

U.S. Department of the Interior 

1849 C Street, NW 

Washington, DC 20240 

 

The Honorable Loretta Lynch 

Attorney General of the United States 

U.S. Department of Justice 

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW 

Washington, DC 20530 

 

Secretary Jewell and Attorney General Lynch: 

 

On behalf of the National Wildlife Federation and our state and territorial affiliates, we write to express our appreciation for the actions and bravery of law enforcement personnel in addressing the unlawful occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and our sorrow at the loss of life that resulted from that occupation. While we hope the arrest of the leaders of the occupation will lead to the end of the unlawful takeover, we remain gravely concerned that the illegal occupation continues. We urge you to redouble your efforts to reach a peaceful resolution to this criminal takeover and to bring the perpetrators to justice. The longer the occupation continues, the more it emboldens this criminal element at the expense of the overwhelming majority of Americans who support keeping public lands accessible for all, especially the thousands of Oregonians who have been unable to visit the Refuge for weeks. 

 

What started as a relatively peaceful protest has now turned into a destructive binge with the occupiers ripping down fences, digging holes, bulldozing roads, desecrating artifacts, threatening staff, commandeering federal vehicles, and building fortifications. These criminal acts are undermining the public trust doctrine that our federal refuges embody and years of work to restore critical habitat for the enjoyment of all Americans—efforts that could be lost if its order is not restored. 

 

As organizations and individuals that care deeply about America’s public lands, our fish and wildlife, and the value these resources bring to communities across the country and the globe, we believe that it is imperative that we end the brazenly illegal occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge as soon as possible. The National Wildlife Federation and its affiliates represent more than six million members and supporters who hunt, fish, hike, camp, and watch wildlife. We—and the hundreds of millions of Americans who enjoy our public lands—stand in solidarity with you and are unified in our opposition to the illegal actions currently taking place on the Malheur Refuge. 

We respect the First Amendment Rights of all Americans to be able to freely express opinions, including discontent with how national public lands are managed—our Federation itself often raises concerns when fish and wildlife are put at risk—but this is no longer a civil protest or a free speech issue. The acts of destruction, combined with the prevention of other Americans to access public lands that are their birthright, are a clear violation of law and must be treated as such. The investment in conservation by all Americans, starting with this Refuge’s establishment by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908 through the Duck Stamps purchased by Americans this year, represent the very best of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation and the public trust doctrine in which these phenomenal resources are accessible to all Americans regardless of income or background. We cannot allow these values to be undercut and pillaged by these outliers who want to impose their unpopular views on the rest of the public. 

 

As is often said, democracy cannot function without the rule of law. We implore you to take every reasonable action in response to these lawbreakers. Community leaders and government officials in Oregon and beyond say they fear there could be permanent damage at the Refuge as well as elevated safety risks for employees and local residents if the remaining occupiers are permitted to stay—and worse yet, copycat occupations and similar efforts elsewhere. It simply has to stop and the perpetrators must be brought to justice. 

We stand ready to assist in any way that we can. 

 

Sincerely, 

 

Collin O’Mara, President & Chief Executive Officer, National Wildlife Federation 

Ellen McNulty, President, Arkansas Wildlife Federation 

Brad Powell, President, Arizona Wildlife Federation 

Bob Rees, Executive Director, Association of Northwest Steelheaders 

Suzanne O’Neill, Executive Director, Colorado Wildlife Federation 

Eric Hammerling, Executive Director, Connecticut Forest & Park Association 

Marjorie Ziegler, Executive Director, Conservation Council for Hawai’i 

Brandon Butler, Executive Director, Conservation Federation of Missouri 

Mitch Friedman, Executive Director, Conservation Northwest 

Brian Winslow, Executive Director, Delaware Nature Society 

Peter Iwanowicz, Executive Director, Environmental Advocates of New York 

Ken Pruitt, Executive Director, Environmental League of Massachusetts 

Manley Fuller, President, Florida Wildlife Federation 

Mike Worley, President & CEO, Georgia Wildlife Federation 

Rich Leopold, President, Iowa Wildlife Federation 

Rob Fraser, President, Idaho Wildlife Federation 

Erin Baird, Executive Director, Indiana Wildlife Federation 

Angela Anderson, Board President, Kansas Wildlife Federation 

Judy Petersen, Executive Director, Kentucky Waterways Alliance 

Dan Eichinger, Executive Director, Michigan United Conservation Clubs 

Gary Botzek, Executive Director, Minnesota Conservation Federation 

Brad Young, Executive Director, Mississippi Wildlife Federation 

Dave Chadwick, Executive Director, Montana Wildlife Federation 

Lisa Pohlmann, Executive Director, Natural Resources Council of Maine 

Tim Gestwicki, CEO, North Carolina Wildlife Federation 

Mike McEnroe, Board President, North Dakota Wildlife Federation 

Carol L. Foss, PhD, New Hampshire Audubon Society 

Eric Stiles, President & CEO, New Jersey Audubon 

Garrett VeneKlasen, Executive Director, New Mexico Wildlife Federation 

Howard Penn, Executive Director, Planning and Conservation League 

Carol Hays, Executive Director, Prairie Rivers Network 

Anders Gustafson, Executive Director, Renewable Resources Coalition and Foundation 

Ben Gregg, Executive Director, South Carolina Wildlife Federation 

Chris Hesla, Executive Director, South Dakota Wildlife Federation 

Brian Shupe, Executive Director, Vermont Natural Resources Council 

George Meyer, Executive Director, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation 

Angie Rosser, Executive Director, West Virginia Rivers Coalition 

 

Chamois Andersen, Executive Director, Wyoming Wildlife Federation 

 

 

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