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UPDATE: Malheur Occupation Cost Oregon Taxpayers More Than $3.3 Million

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ADAM ROSENLUND
  • Adam Rosenlund


UPDATE: Wednesday, Feb. 24, noon

An analysis of public and Oregon tribal budgets conducted by The Oregonian following the conclusion of the 41-day Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation has pegged the cost of the militia standoff at more than $3.3 million.

The Oregonian's analysis includes costs to a slew of law enforcement agencies, tribal councils and schools, as well as lodging and supplies like food, fuel and batteries. The total figure does not reflect costs to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and is expected to grow, even as the FBI hands over control of the refuge to USFWS following its investigation. 

Some highlights from The Oregonian's report include almost $950,000 spent by the Oregon State Police in January, $90,000 spent on artifact inventory at the refuge and $60,000 spent on law enforcement by the Burns Paiute Tribe.

ORIGINAL POST: Wednesday, Feb. 24, 10:51 a.m.

From costs to backup law enforcement to security and counseling services provided to the Harney County School District, the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge by Ammon Bundy and his supporters cost Oregon taxpayers $1.2 million, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.



"The vigilantes who occupied the Malheur Wildlife Refuge for over a month sapped resources from local and state governments and inflicted tremendous damage to a valued natural resource," said Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio in a statement. 

Some of the costs include more than $700,000 for backup law enforcement and $160,000 in wages to Harney County School District employees to stay home during week one of the occupation. Law enforcement officers accrued 4,588 overtime hours, costing participating police departments over $400,000, and $16,000 were spent on security and counseling for schools. Other costs include food, lodging, fuel and other supplies.

The dollar figure reported by OPB came from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and does not include costs run by the Oregon State Police, and damage may have been done to wildlife and property at the refuge itself, meaning the true cost of the occupation is likely higher.

Currently, Oregon officials have been to Washington, D.C., to ask the federal government for financial assistance to shoulder the costs of the occupation, and DeFazio and other Oregon representatives have introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that would pivot some costs to the federal Interior and Justice departments. 

"It will take time, money and hard work to clean up the destruction left behind," DeFazio said. 

The occupation stemmed in part with disagreements between some ranchers and the Bureau of Land Management over federal land use, but some Idaho ranchers and lawmakers are hoping to mend fences with federal authorities by addressing issues common to both groups, including watershed use and conservation.