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Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Harassment of the Hammonds Act I – Decade of the Eighties

Scene 3 – April 2, 1987 – April 15, 1987

The Harassment of the Hammonds Act I – Decade of the Eighties



Dwight writes to De Bates, April 2, 1987 {33-37}, providing some background from a good working relationship to the current untenable encroachment on the historical rights, the failure on the part of MNWR to follow a previous agreement (1975), and the subsequent consequences of that failure. A Map from 1975 is also included. Pertinent parts:
Approximately a year or so ago, George Constantino told me could not go through the refuge, as I had always done. I really didn’t take him too seriously, as I knew there was no other way to go, and I didn’t have a choice. I told him this at that time. We had several meetings after that, each time George telling me I could not go through the refuge. These meetings included other refuge personnel and also people from the BLM in Burns, OR.

Each time, he was told I couldn’t go any other way. Around the first of the year or so, we had another meeting and George proposed a “permitted” crossing through a passage that was virtually impossible. At that time, I told him I would give 1,000 to one odds, if he and any number of cowboys he chose, could get cattle through the refuge on the trail he was proposing. It was asinine!!!!! After much discussion, on George’s part, he decided that, indeed, I could go the way I had been going, however, I would have to have a permit, and be supervised in the crossing. This is not my idea of a “working relationship”.’
In your Feb. 20, letter, you wrote that George had been advised by you to not require a permit; therefore, I felt we should have had a constructive meeting on march 12. The very first part of our conversation was that George would like to go over this, again, that there must be something he was missing, and we should get on with the making out of the “permit”. I was informed, as I have been again in George’s letter of march 20, that he was “in control” and could stop me at any time that I didn’t comply with one of his whims. ‘
Have wasted many hours of my time that could have been put to productivity and I am sure your personnel have done the same, but that does not seem to be a factor.’
In trying to answer your letter, we have reviewed our prior correspondence, and it seems that we have expressed a number of times, the important issues concerning our side of this problem, as you have yours. We went to Portland, to visit you, because we were told sandy Wilber was in total agreement as to the way George Constantino was handling this situation. We did not even ask to see Sandy Wilber, for that reason. The secretaries routed our call through to Mr. Wilber, and he asked to talk with us so we obliged, to no avail. I still felt that possibly we had failed to adequately present our position, thus made the offer to pay your expenses to personally assess the problem, here, on the ground, yourself. We also said that we would pay your personal representative’s expenses, and our offer still stands, even if it would be sandy Wilber; and we have little faith that he can accomplish anything because of his total, apparent agreement with George’s past position. But, if he is your choice, and representative, so be it. However, we feel there is no compromise left in us because of the way the situation has been handled, not even the compromise offer of Hammond ranches furnishing the labor to repair the old, prior to 1975, boundary fence. We have lived with this situation as long as it is possible, as we have stated in all our letters. We will not be satisfied until this situation is resolved this time, so as to protect cur rights for the future, as obviously you people have not been satisfied, and are still not satisfied, and it seems, from our standpoint, are on a long-term proposal to terminate our business. If you feel that sandy Wilber can handle this type of compromise, we would be thankful for his attendance; however, the problem, from our standpoint, will not be resolved with less.’
We appreciate your recognition of our having to use this route to trail our cattle; but, we feel that you are still being unreasonable as we are not, apparently, moving our cattle to your satisfaction, after the construction of the fence. This is why we feel we have no alternative but to go back to our 1975 agreements with the refuge, BLM, OWC and ourselves. I realize I am somewhat inadequately expressing the situation, but, I will try again with this enclosed map, signed by the BLM, at which time there was present a representative from the four above groups, and which was the product of an on-the-ground tour, conducted by the refuge, thus verifying that we realized that Bridge Creek was a sensitive area over 10 years ago. The insinuation in your letter that our cattle have damaged the bridge creek riparian area is another jab at us with a sharp stick, that we resent, giving us a black eye in the environmental community. Had the agreement of 1975 been complied with, as agreed, by the refuge, the problems would not now exist. We are the most prominent conservationists in this area as wildlife, birds, and fish are all being fed by us, year round, and we are not paid any tax dollars to offset their care and welfare. ‘
Bottom line of this whole major problem stems from you people not living up to the agreement of 1975, creating a situation that was tough to live with, but we did, up until the time of the local gestapo’s exercising his law-enforcement abilities (Tom Downs), George Constantino, his superior, and refuge manager, and sandy Wilber, who is backing him up.’
Also, in rereading our letters, it seems to me that maybe the impression has been made that my “trailing” across this area only happens once a year. I would like to clarify this, in that every time I take cattle from one side of my ranch to the other, for whatever reason, I must use this route.’
I, too, am very concerned that you think my relationship with your refuge staff has deteriorated to any degree. I have some very obvious definite feelings about the abilities of two members of your staff, and other than that, I have no problems with refuge personnel. Under the Freedom of Information Act, I would like for you to include, in your next letter, a copy of the documentation of the incident you refer to in your march 19 letter.’
Again, I am sorry this whole thing has gotten so blown out of proportion, but I have no choice but to fight back, and this time for a permanent solution, this being the removal of the new fence and going back to the old boundary fence that served with zero friction for at least 40 years, and the new (1975) agreement would have preserved the riparian habitat in Bridge Creek. ‘
P.S. Note- again, not related to the enclosed conflict, but part of the management decisions that make for poor relationships, and since, whoever is visiting on your behalf may be enlightened, and possibly incorporate this knowledge into the visit, and make this a more productive visit. Our cattle, in the winter of 1987 use, had used all their allotted AUMS. There was still time left on the permit. We were out of feed, and were asked to leave, which we did. At that time, we had asked to use excess feed that was in a field that was situated well for us, and we were told there was no feed for us in that field as they wanted to protect the uplands for nesting habitat. Approximately one month later, all that feed, the uplands and whatever, was totally destroyed by the refuge, through burning. This did not create one dollar of revenue to offset the taxpayer load, but did cost us. Also, the emergency forage board has asked for any excess feed to be incorporated into the forage needs of the people who are under water in the lake. The refuge has said they have no excess feed, yet they can still burn areas that could have been economically used and could have created some revenue. Admittedly, there are a few areas on the refuge that cannot be dealt with in any other way, but this is not what we see as the norm. Whether we use the feed, the emergency people use it, or it is permitted in some other way is really irrelevant if there was only a turnover of a renewal dollar. Plus, maybe then you could be able to pay our county its fair share for having been here, instead of short- changing us year after year, making no effort to break even.’
We realize you believe we are not being singled out, however, just this week we have been informed that our grazing for the up-coming year is being reduced, while others seem to be getting increases in their AUMS. ‘
Note: AUM = Animal Unit Month: This is based upon a 1,000 pound cow eating 25 lbs. of dry forage per day, or about 780 lbs. of dry forage per month. Grazing allotments are paid for by AUM assessments based upon available forage in an allotment.
Dwight lays out a good foundation for solution, by returning to the 1975 agreement, including a map signed by government officials. By that agreement, the subsequent environmental concerns would not have existed. He also points out that they have been environmentally conscious and have taken care of the wildlife.
In his P.S., he points to the fact that grazing lands that could provide revenue are burned by the Refuge, resulting in a loss of revenue, depriving the County of what would be their share had effective management been applied.
By now, it is quite apparent that the management at the Refuge, as suggested by Dwight, “are on a long-term proposal to terminate our business.”
In an internal memo, Sanford (Sandy) Wilbur reports to De Bates, April 14, 1987 {39}, on the results of his visit.
The immediate issue of Hammonds trailing cattle through the refuge appears to be worked out. No permit is being issued, as we are acknowledging their “historic” use of that trail, but David Johnson volunteered to accompany Hammonds on their drive to help out. It is the feeling of the refuge staff that passage through the refuge should not take over 6 hours. Right now, the first move of cattle is expected May 2 (255 head), with a second scheduled about June 11 (495 head).
Hammonds have raised several other issues of “unfair treatment”, but it appears to me that they are being dealt with the same as all other refuge permittees. The real issue is still the fence we built on the refuge boundary several years ago. The fence was built before either George Constantino or I were involved, so we cannot address anyone’s “intent” (Hammonds claim it was a “spite fence”, erected solely to inconvenience them). However, it clearly is a good fence in that it protects springs and riparian areas, identifies our boundary, and does not create an access problem for Hammonds as long as they can trail cattle through the refuge. During my phone conversation with the Hammonds, it was made clear that nothing would satisfy them except the removal of the fence. I asked again for clarification of what the specific problem was. The answer was that, if I didn’t know by now, I hadn’t been listening.
My instruction to the refuge staff was to continue to treat the Hammonds as they would treat any other permittee on the refuge. This involves documenting compliance with permits and attempting to resolve problems at the local level as they occur. I think the refuge staff does this very well, taking a low key and generally non-confrontational approach that works well in almost all situations. Because I don’t feel that Hammonds’ complaints are justified, I recommend to you that we move control back to the field as quickly as possible. I suspect that the Hammonds will call the Regional Director since they aren’t getting satisfaction from Refuges, so we should arrange a briefing for Rolf soon.
So, we see that the government has finally agreed to the historical trailing route. However, there is still a question as to the fence, and he feels that the Hammonds are not being treated unfairly, as Dwight had claimed in the previous letter.
On April 15, 1987 {41, 44}, De Bates, in response to Dwight’s “FOIA” request, provides copies of reports of abuse during a previous meeting. A handwritten note by Sandy suggests that the report by “Arlene” & “Ruth” not be included, however, De Bates includes all three reports.
Your April 2 letter regarding livestock use of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge requested that, under the Freedom of Information Act, we provide you with documentation of an incident in which you verbally abused and threatened refuge employees. That documentation is attached.
I understand that Mr. Wilbur was not able to meet you personally when he was at Malheur, but that he did talk to Mrs. Hammond by phone after he had reviewed the situation in the field. It appears that the immediate issue of moving your stock through the refuge this spring is being worked out with the refuge, but that you are still dissatisfied that we will not remove the refuge boundary fence constructed some years ago in the Bridge Creek area. Further evaluation of that situation confirms my earlier decision that the fence is in a desirable location and will continue to be maintained. If you have specific concerns about the fence as it affects your operations, please discuss them with Refuge Manager Constantino. Perhaps there is some accommodation that can be made.
If you choose to read the three reports {45-48}, you will see that Dwight was quite upset, according to Sandy, primarily over the interpretation of the Refuge policy on fencing (9RM3.1).
9 RM 3.1 Policy. It is the policy of the Service to construct fences on national wildlife refuges only when essential to management and protection of wildlife and refuge lands; and to assure that such fences are constructed andmaintained in a manner that minimizes conflict with adjacent land owners and refuge objectives. Fencing merely to denote ownership by the United States is not normally justified.
It appears that Dwight is correct, in that it is intended to minimize conflict with adjacent landowners, and requires fencing only when essential to management and protection of wildlife. Normally, birds and deer seem to have no problem with fences, so it is difficult to see where the policy includes vegetation, as Sandy has, and will continue, to address.
The “abuse” reports are included {45-48}. However, it seems that only Sandy was verbally abused. Perhaps there is merit to Dwight’s call on the matter.
To Be Continued

Scene 3 – April 2, 1987 – April 15, 1987

The Harassment of the Hammonds Act I – Decade of the Eighties



Dwight writes to De Bates, April 2, 1987 {33-37}, providing some background from a good working relationship to the current untenable encroachment on the historical rights, the failure on the part of MNWR to follow a previous agreement (1975), and the subsequent consequences of that failure. A Map from 1975 is also included. Pertinent parts:
Approximately a year or so ago, George Constantino told me could not go through the refuge, as I had always done. I really didn’t take him too seriously, as I knew there was no other way to go, and I didn’t have a choice. I told him this at that time. We had several meetings after that, each time George telling me I could not go through the refuge. These meetings included other refuge personnel and also people from the BLM in Burns, OR.

Each time, he was told I couldn’t go any other way. Around the first of the year or so, we had another meeting and George proposed a “permitted” crossing through a passage that was virtually impossible. At that time, I told him I would give 1,000 to one odds, if he and any number of cowboys he chose, could get cattle through the refuge on the trail he was proposing. It was asinine!!!!! After much discussion, on George’s part, he decided that, indeed, I could go the way I had been going, however, I would have to have a permit, and be supervised in the crossing. This is not my idea of a “working relationship”.’
In your Feb. 20, letter, you wrote that George had been advised by you to not require a permit; therefore, I felt we should have had a constructive meeting on march 12. The very first part of our conversation was that George would like to go over this, again, that there must be something he was missing, and we should get on with the making out of the “permit”. I was informed, as I have been again in George’s letter of march 20, that he was “in control” and could stop me at any time that I didn’t comply with one of his whims. ‘
Have wasted many hours of my time that could have been put to productivity and I am sure your personnel have done the same, but that does not seem to be a factor.’
In trying to answer your letter, we have reviewed our prior correspondence, and it seems that we have expressed a number of times, the important issues concerning our side of this problem, as you have yours. We went to Portland, to visit you, because we were told sandy Wilber was in total agreement as to the way George Constantino was handling this situation. We did not even ask to see Sandy Wilber, for that reason. The secretaries routed our call through to Mr. Wilber, and he asked to talk with us so we obliged, to no avail. I still felt that possibly we had failed to adequately present our position, thus made the offer to pay your expenses to personally assess the problem, here, on the ground, yourself. We also said that we would pay your personal representative’s expenses, and our offer still stands, even if it would be sandy Wilber; and we have little faith that he can accomplish anything because of his total, apparent agreement with George’s past position. But, if he is your choice, and representative, so be it. However, we feel there is no compromise left in us because of the way the situation has been handled, not even the compromise offer of Hammond ranches furnishing the labor to repair the old, prior to 1975, boundary fence. We have lived with this situation as long as it is possible, as we have stated in all our letters. We will not be satisfied until this situation is resolved this time, so as to protect cur rights for the future, as obviously you people have not been satisfied, and are still not satisfied, and it seems, from our standpoint, are on a long-term proposal to terminate our business. If you feel that sandy Wilber can handle this type of compromise, we would be thankful for his attendance; however, the problem, from our standpoint, will not be resolved with less.’
We appreciate your recognition of our having to use this route to trail our cattle; but, we feel that you are still being unreasonable as we are not, apparently, moving our cattle to your satisfaction, after the construction of the fence. This is why we feel we have no alternative but to go back to our 1975 agreements with the refuge, BLM, OWC and ourselves. I realize I am somewhat inadequately expressing the situation, but, I will try again with this enclosed map, signed by the BLM, at which time there was present a representative from the four above groups, and which was the product of an on-the-ground tour, conducted by the refuge, thus verifying that we realized that Bridge Creek was a sensitive area over 10 years ago. The insinuation in your letter that our cattle have damaged the bridge creek riparian area is another jab at us with a sharp stick, that we resent, giving us a black eye in the environmental community. Had the agreement of 1975 been complied with, as agreed, by the refuge, the problems would not now exist. We are the most prominent conservationists in this area as wildlife, birds, and fish are all being fed by us, year round, and we are not paid any tax dollars to offset their care and welfare. ‘
Bottom line of this whole major problem stems from you people not living up to the agreement of 1975, creating a situation that was tough to live with, but we did, up until the time of the local gestapo’s exercising his law-enforcement abilities (Tom Downs), George Constantino, his superior, and refuge manager, and sandy Wilber, who is backing him up.’
Also, in rereading our letters, it seems to me that maybe the impression has been made that my “trailing” across this area only happens once a year. I would like to clarify this, in that every time I take cattle from one side of my ranch to the other, for whatever reason, I must use this route.’
I, too, am very concerned that you think my relationship with your refuge staff has deteriorated to any degree. I have some very obvious definite feelings about the abilities of two members of your staff, and other than that, I have no problems with refuge personnel. Under the Freedom of Information Act, I would like for you to include, in your next letter, a copy of the documentation of the incident you refer to in your march 19 letter.’
Again, I am sorry this whole thing has gotten so blown out of proportion, but I have no choice but to fight back, and this time for a permanent solution, this being the removal of the new fence and going back to the old boundary fence that served with zero friction for at least 40 years, and the new (1975) agreement would have preserved the riparian habitat in Bridge Creek. ‘
P.S. Note- again, not related to the enclosed conflict, but part of the management decisions that make for poor relationships, and since, whoever is visiting on your behalf may be enlightened, and possibly incorporate this knowledge into the visit, and make this a more productive visit. Our cattle, in the winter of 1987 use, had used all their allotted AUMS. There was still time left on the permit. We were out of feed, and were asked to leave, which we did. At that time, we had asked to use excess feed that was in a field that was situated well for us, and we were told there was no feed for us in that field as they wanted to protect the uplands for nesting habitat. Approximately one month later, all that feed, the uplands and whatever, was totally destroyed by the refuge, through burning. This did not create one dollar of revenue to offset the taxpayer load, but did cost us. Also, the emergency forage board has asked for any excess feed to be incorporated into the forage needs of the people who are under water in the lake. The refuge has said they have no excess feed, yet they can still burn areas that could have been economically used and could have created some revenue. Admittedly, there are a few areas on the refuge that cannot be dealt with in any other way, but this is not what we see as the norm. Whether we use the feed, the emergency people use it, or it is permitted in some other way is really irrelevant if there was only a turnover of a renewal dollar. Plus, maybe then you could be able to pay our county its fair share for having been here, instead of short- changing us year after year, making no effort to break even.’
We realize you believe we are not being singled out, however, just this week we have been informed that our grazing for the up-coming year is being reduced, while others seem to be getting increases in their AUMS. ‘
Note: AUM = Animal Unit Month: This is based upon a 1,000 pound cow eating 25 lbs. of dry forage per day, or about 780 lbs. of dry forage per month. Grazing allotments are paid for by AUM assessments based upon available forage in an allotment.
Dwight lays out a good foundation for solution, by returning to the 1975 agreement, including a map signed by government officials. By that agreement, the subsequent environmental concerns would not have existed. He also points out that they have been environmentally conscious and have taken care of the wildlife.
In his P.S., he points to the fact that grazing lands that could provide revenue are burned by the Refuge, resulting in a loss of revenue, depriving the County of what would be their share had effective management been applied.
By now, it is quite apparent that the management at the Refuge, as suggested by Dwight, “are on a long-term proposal to terminate our business.”
In an internal memo, Sanford (Sandy) Wilbur reports to De Bates, April 14, 1987 {39}, on the results of his visit.
The immediate issue of Hammonds trailing cattle through the refuge appears to be worked out. No permit is being issued, as we are acknowledging their “historic” use of that trail, but David Johnson volunteered to accompany Hammonds on their drive to help out. It is the feeling of the refuge staff that passage through the refuge should not take over 6 hours. Right now, the first move of cattle is expected May 2 (255 head), with a second scheduled about June 11 (495 head).
Hammonds have raised several other issues of “unfair treatment”, but it appears to me that they are being dealt with the same as all other refuge permittees. The real issue is still the fence we built on the refuge boundary several years ago. The fence was built before either George Constantino or I were involved, so we cannot address anyone’s “intent” (Hammonds claim it was a “spite fence”, erected solely to inconvenience them). However, it clearly is a good fence in that it protects springs and riparian areas, identifies our boundary, and does not create an access problem for Hammonds as long as they can trail cattle through the refuge. During my phone conversation with the Hammonds, it was made clear that nothing would satisfy them except the removal of the fence. I asked again for clarification of what the specific problem was. The answer was that, if I didn’t know by now, I hadn’t been listening.
My instruction to the refuge staff was to continue to treat the Hammonds as they would treat any other permittee on the refuge. This involves documenting compliance with permits and attempting to resolve problems at the local level as they occur. I think the refuge staff does this very well, taking a low key and generally non-confrontational approach that works well in almost all situations. Because I don’t feel that Hammonds’ complaints are justified, I recommend to you that we move control back to the field as quickly as possible. I suspect that the Hammonds will call the Regional Director since they aren’t getting satisfaction from Refuges, so we should arrange a briefing for Rolf soon.
So, we see that the government has finally agreed to the historical trailing route. However, there is still a question as to the fence, and he feels that the Hammonds are not being treated unfairly, as Dwight had claimed in the previous letter.
On April 15, 1987 {41, 44}, De Bates, in response to Dwight’s “FOIA” request, provides copies of reports of abuse during a previous meeting. A handwritten note by Sandy suggests that the report by “Arlene” & “Ruth” not be included, however, De Bates includes all three reports.
Your April 2 letter regarding livestock use of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge requested that, under the Freedom of Information Act, we provide you with documentation of an incident in which you verbally abused and threatened refuge employees. That documentation is attached.
I understand that Mr. Wilbur was not able to meet you personally when he was at Malheur, but that he did talk to Mrs. Hammond by phone after he had reviewed the situation in the field. It appears that the immediate issue of moving your stock through the refuge this spring is being worked out with the refuge, but that you are still dissatisfied that we will not remove the refuge boundary fence constructed some years ago in the Bridge Creek area. Further evaluation of that situation confirms my earlier decision that the fence is in a desirable location and will continue to be maintained. If you have specific concerns about the fence as it affects your operations, please discuss them with Refuge Manager Constantino. Perhaps there is some accommodation that can be made.
If you choose to read the three reports {45-48}, you will see that Dwight was quite upset, according to Sandy, primarily over the interpretation of the Refuge policy on fencing (9RM3.1).
9 RM 3.1 Policy. It is the policy of the Service to construct fences on national wildlife refuges only when essential to management and protection of wildlife and refuge lands; and to assure that such fences are constructed andmaintained in a manner that minimizes conflict with adjacent land owners and refuge objectives. Fencing merely to denote ownership by the United States is not normally justified.
It appears that Dwight is correct, in that it is intended to minimize conflict with adjacent landowners, and requires fencing only when essential to management and protection of wildlife. Normally, birds and deer seem to have no problem with fences, so it is difficult to see where the policy includes vegetation, as Sandy has, and will continue, to address.
The “abuse” reports are included {45-48}. However, it seems that only Sandy was verbally abused. Perhaps there is merit to Dwight’s call on the matter.
To Be Continued


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