Where the birds find a place to rest and feed

What about what local people think about the criminals who have stolen Malheur National Wildlife Refuge? What about what birders think? What about the local economy?

The Portland Tribune reports on that:

According to a 2008 Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife report, wildlife-viewing tourism accounts for about $8 million of travel spending per year in Harney County.

Ah. That sounds small, but reporting has been saying that Harney County is not rich. The people who depend on that $8 million probably don’t consider it too small to notice.

The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt to protect the vast populations of waterbirds that were being decimated.

“The occupation of Malheur by armed, out-of-state militia groups puts one of America’s most important wildlife refuges at risk,” wrote local Audubon Society Conservation Director Bob Sallinger, who recommended that local birders avoid the area while under occupation. “We hope for a safe, expeditious end to this armed occupation so that the myriad of local and non-local stakeholders can continue to work together to restore Malheur in ways that are supportive of both the local ecology and the local economy — the occupiers are serving nobody’s interests except their own,” Sallinger added.

It’s a wildlife refuge. It’s not a prison or an extrajudicial detention center or a nuclear waste dump. It’s a wildlife refuge. It’s not an insult to cattle ranchers, and it doesn’t steal anything that belongs to cattle ranchers. They don’t own federal lands, because we all do and therefore no one has the right to damage and exploit them for their personal profit. The feds let them graze their cattle on federal land for a fraction of what private landowners charge, so they should get the fuck out of our wildlife refuge.

Three local residents, who are birders and active in conservation and restoration work in the county, commented on what is happening at the refuge:

Dick and Sally Shook

“We are sorry that the refuge has been chosen as a protest site by the ‘outsiders.’ It is our opinion that the land is rightfully under the control of the federal government as ruled on at least two occasions by the Supreme Court,” noted Milwaukie resident Dick Shook.

“If these people leave before the migration season, and don’t damage any of the facilities, probably they won’t have much of an impact. However, if they don’t leave by March or spring migration time, the county and Burns will suffer economically,” he said.

“The headquarters, where the encampment is taking place, is the small area that attracts the migrating birds because it is the best, maybe only, place where there is a concentration of water and large, varied, green trees where the birds find a place to rest and feed before resuming their flights to their breeding grounds,” Shook said.

He added that this same spot is where birders from all over the country come, as well, and Burns and the surrounding area is where they stay and spend their money.

The Shooks have volunteered at the Malheur Field Station which is three or four miles from the refuge headquarters, where the occupiers have taken their stand. They also did a week of volunteer work at the refuge more than 10 years ago, Shook said.

“One of the many enchanting, memorable incidents was watching at dusk several pairs of short-eared owls in a courtship dance, that included clapping their wings together while flying in and out and around low-growing trees and shrubs. It was always a thrill to sight a new species of bird, for us, such as a Virginia rail or the secretive sora,” Shook said.

The violent bullying criminal thieves who have stolen Malheur are messing all that up. A pox on them.

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