Rep. Greg Walden: Refuge takeover reflects frustrations of many - KPTV - FOX 12

Rep. Greg Walden: Refuge takeover reflects frustrations of many in rural Oregon

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U.S. Representative Greg Walden addressed the U.S House of Representatives Tuesday afternoon, saying although he doesn't support the takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge, the action by armed militants reflects frustration with the federal government that many in the region feel.

A group calling itself Citizens for Constitutional Freedom took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County over the weekend, in protest of the re-sentencing of two ranchers who were convicted of starting fires that burned onto federal land.

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Rep. Walden touched on the widespread frustration with federal policies in rural communities in eastern Oregon and said he can sympathize with the feelings of the locals in that area.

‘But what people don’t understand is the culture and the lifestyle [of] this great American West, and how much these ranchers care about the environment, the future, their children and America," said Walden.

“They believe in the Constitution and now we see the extent they will go to defend what they view is their constitutional right.”

Rep. Walden added that we was not defending the militants' actions in any way, but he emotionally acknowledged that there are problems in the rural communities that need to be addressed.

“It’s gone too far,” Walden said. “I hope people understand how heartfelt this is by those who pay their taxes and try and live by the law and do the right things and how oppressed they feel by the government they elect.”

Walden represents Oregon’s Second Congressional District, which includes 20 counties in central, southern, and eastern Oregon.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown also addressed the wildlife refuge takeover Tuesday, saying in a statement:

"Although the FBI is the lead agency responding to the situation, my top priority is the safety of the people of Harney County and the City of Burns. The Oregon State Police has enhanced its presence in the area, augmenting local and federal public safety resources and assisting with community outreach. I look for a swift resolution that allows Harney County life to return to normal."

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