KS Wild Joins Statewide Actions to Support Public Lands
"We're going to be positive. We're going to be peaceful and we're going to talk about how much we love public lands."
As hundreds of nature lovers and conservationist gathered Tuesday at Northeast Portland's Holladay Park, a red-tail hawk soared above and gave a loud screech.
The crowd cheered, celebrating the symbolism during a rally calling for Ammon Bundy and his anti-government group to end their armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge as it entered its third week.
"We can show the gang that's out there at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge how you really make a public statement in support of something," said Sean Stevens, executive director of Oregon Wild.
"We're going to be positive. We're going to be peaceful and we're going to talk about how much we love public lands."Conservation groups staged similar rallies throughout the state, including in Eugene, Bend and La Grande, according to Oregon Wild, formerly known as the Oregon Natural Resources Council. There also were gatherings in Washington and Idaho.
A couple hundred people turned out in Eugene, including Mayor Kitty Piercy, according to one observer. In contrast to the militia at the Harney County wildlife refuge, Britt Anderson noted, most participants arrived in or carrying outdoors gear, such as kayak vests or binoculars.
More than 200 people gathered in Bend, said Heidi Hagemeier of the Oregon Natural Desert Association.
In Medford, a 700-signature petition was submitted to Oregon Congressman Greg Walden calling for the protection of the land from the armed occupiers, said Joseph Vaile of the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center.
More than 100 sportsmen and environmentalists gathered in front of the Idaho Capitol in Boise. They said they disagree with Bundy's demand that the refuge — a popular place for birdwatchers and hunters — be turned over to local residents.
Bundy is a son of rancher Cliven Bundy, who was involved in a 2014 Nevada standoff with the federal government over grazing rights.
Meanwhile in Portland, birders, hikers and nature lovers demanded the government remove the refuge occupiers, whom they condemned as criminals. Hundreds chanted, "birds not bullies."
Jarvis Kennedy, the sergeant of arms of the Burns Paiute Tribal Council, spoke to the crowd.
"Who knows what would happen if it was me and my native brothers took up arms and occupied a federal building or even that refuge out there?" Kennedy asked. "What would happen? Do you think the government would let us ... go back into town? And eat? Get supplies? And have people out there bring us wood and keeping us warm?"
Bob Sallinger, conservation director of the Portland Audubon Society of Porltand, said the armed occupation needs to end and the lands need to be returned to the public owners.
"This country really cares about these places," Sallinger said. "This illegal armed occupation needs to end. It needs to be prosecuted and these lands need to be returned to the people."