Ranchers pardoned by President Trump return home to Oregon after - KPTV - FOX 12

Ranchers pardoned by President Trump return home to Oregon after release from prison

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Photo courtesy: Pedro Quintana, KTVZ reporter, @PedroKTVZ on Twitter Photo courtesy: Pedro Quintana, KTVZ reporter, @PedroKTVZ on Twitter
BURNS, OR (KPTV/AP) -

A father and son pardoned by President Donald Trump after being convicted of intentionally setting fires on public land in Oregon flew home after being released from custody.

They were greeted in Burns by family members, journalists and riders on horseback carrying American flags.

Steven Hammond, 46, gave thanks Wednesday to Trump and the many people who wrote to him and his father, 73-year-old Dwight Hammond, while they were in prison.

"It's not something that you can explain. I told these guys earlier, this point today is like high school graduation," he said. 

The sentencing of the men to mandatory five-year-minimum terms became a rallying cry for those who oppose federal control of public lands.

Others said they committed serious crimes and worried that the pardons might prompt other actions involving public lands.

The White House released a statement Tuesday saying, in part, “The Hammonds are devoted family men, respected contributors to their local community, and have widespread support from their neighbors, local law enforcement, and farmers and ranchers across the West.”

"Trump has, as far as I know, been responsible for the 'buck stops here' stamp. God bless him," Steven Hammond said. 

Their case led other ranchers to launch an armed occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in rural Oregon for 41 days in 2016.

The Hammonds were released Tuesday from a federal prison in California. Their attorney said Wednesday they looking into potential civil action to "make sure they're protected in the future and that these types of things don't continue to happen."

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation contributed to this report. 

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