You should be concerned!
Hammond Ranch Data & Dispute
This is a story of ranchers Dwight (father) and Steven (son) Hammond of Diamond, Harney County, Oregon. In the year 2001 they set fire on BLM land for which they had grazing permits. They did so to clear underbrush so more grass would grow, making the land more productive for their cattle. Some years later a court did indeed rule that the fire had accomplished that, making the land more valuable for grazing.
Both Hammonds had been previously arrested in 1994 for blocking the BLM from building a fence. The BLM was constructing a fence that would block Hammond cattle from grazing on land the BLM had claimed as a “refuge”. But the Hammonds claimed that area as a “historic right of way” that has been in use since 1871. “We have never had a permit,” Susan Hammond said. “We have a right to use it.” The Hammonds served only two days in jail, their hearing was postponed indefinitely for this offense, and to date has never taken place.
Nevertheless the Hammonds were tried and convicted in 2012 under the “Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996” for arson on public land for the 2001 fire and a similar fire in 2006. The statutory minimum sentence was five years. However, Judge Hogan deemed a five year sentence too lengthy per the 8th Amendment(cuel and unusual punishment). Consequently he sentenced the Hammonds to 3 months and one year respectively. The Hammonds did indeed serve that time in jail. Dwight 3 Months and Steven 12 Months.
However, the BLM and the US government are now contesting that sentence as a violation of the Antiterrorism act. Suit has been filed in the District Court of Oregon (Eugene) for the Hammonds to serve the balance of the prescribed minimum sentence. The hearing on 7 Oct 2015 in Eugene, Oregon. was only a sentencing hearing, as the Hammonds have already been found guilty (and served jail time) for the offense. Druing this hearign ther were sentance to the remaining five years in a federal penatary.
In the meanwhile the BLM is refusing to renew the Hammonds’ grazing permits, forcing them to find alternative feed for their cattle. In a separate suit, the BLM is also charging the Hammonds $400,000 for alleged costs of fighting fires and damage to the public lands. In the event the Hammonds must sell some or all their private ranch land to meet that monetary demand, the BLM has filed first option to buy the land forcing the Hammonds to sell to them.
The Hammonds agreed in 2013 to pay the $400,000 as their insurance company agreed to help substantially. Dwight & Susan Hammond have moved off their ranch to Burns, Oregon, in anticipation of Dwight going to jail for four more years & nine months. Then his wife Susan will be able to care for herself in town.
Dwight purchased his ranch & grazing rights in 1964. He confirmed to me that his grazing rights predated the establishment of the BLM, by virtue of being established by previous owners of his ranch.
Steven Hammond is reluctant to talk to anyone about the situation in fears of the federal governmetns actions againts him and his young family.
Hammond Family & Individuals Involved
Dwight Hammond (70 yrs old), father to Steve & grandfather to Dusty; arrested for arson
Steve Hammond (43 yrs old), son to Dwight & uncle to Dusty; arrested for arson
Dusty Hammond (24 yrs old), grandson to Dwight; admitted arsonist & witness 2001 Hunting party; (13 yrs old at time of 2001 fire; Evidently he made a plea bargain to testify in 2012 trial.) Ages given in 2012
Rusty Hammond, father to Dusty; accessory to arson, not arrested
Susan H. Hammond (~71 yrs old, wife of Dwight; past member of Harney County Watershed Council)
46851 Hammond Ranch Rd.
Frenchglen, OR 97722
OR 33 / T30S / R31E / Section 5 / NW ¼
Coordinates: 42.872253, -118.586019
Total of 480 acres per Harney County records (Susan Hammond says it’s ~ 1000 acres)
Cattle rancher; member of Harney County Chamber of Commerce
The Hammond Ranch is entirely within the Donner Und Blitzen Sub-Basin Watershed, designated by the Harney County Watershed Council, of which Susan Hammond is a past council member. The assessment document gives a history of the land use in the area, on PDF pages 12 – 22, “Historical Land Use”.)
BLM Topo; Yellow areas are BLM claimed lands. Red hatched areas are BLM “Conservation Areas”, different than ACECs.
Legal Data & Non-Hammond People on the Case:
Case Number is 2:11-CV-823-SU
Sentencing Hearing scheduled on 7 October 2015, 10:30 AM, before Judge Ann Aiken, in Eugene Oregon.
Attorney of record to handle the US side of the case is Chief Judge of the District of Oregon
Neil Evans Judge Ann Aiken
Portland, Oregon 405 E Eighth St, Eugene, Oregon
(503) 727-1053 (541) 431-4100
(Cushman says Evans is not the prosecuting attorney.) email@example.com
Gerri Badden Kendra Matthews, partner (Hammonds’ attorney)
US Attorney’s Office – District of Oregon (Prosecution) Ransom Blackman LLP
Public Information Officer 1001 SW 5th Ave, Ste 1400, Portland, Oregon 97204
(503) 727-1033 – desk (503) 228-0487
(503) 706-3910 – cell firstname.lastname@example.org
Public Advocate for the Hammonds
American Land Rights Association
PO Box 400, Battle Ground, Washington 98604
News Articles in Chronological Order, Oldest First: Read More