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Leader of armed group wants land transfer, then will go home

Ammon Bundy, one of the sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, speaks during an interview at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, near Burns, Ore. Law enforcement had yet to take any action Tuesday against a group numbering close to two dozen, led by Bundy and his brother, who are upset over federal land policy. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

By REBECCA BOONE and GENE JOHNSON | Associated Press

 (AP) — A leader of the small armed group that has been occupying a remote national wildlife refuge in Oregon said Tuesday that they will go home when a plan to turn over management of federal lands to locals is implemented.

Ammon Bundy — one of the sons of rancher Cliven Bundy, who was involved in a 2014 Nevada standoff with the government over grazing rights — told reporters at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge that ranchers, loggers and farmers should have control of federal lands.

Bundy offered few specifics of the group’s plan, but LaVoy Finicum, a rancher from Arizona, said the group would examine the underlying land ownership transactions to begin to “unwind it.”

Finicum said he was eager to leave Oregon.

“I need to get home,” he said. “I’ve got cows that are scattered and lost.”

As of Tuesday morning, authorities had not shut off power to the refuge, Finicum said.

“If they cut it off, that would be such a crying shame, all the pipes would freeze.”

As the occupation entered its third day, Ammon Bundy said the group felt it had the support of the local community.

However, the county sheriff has told the roughly 20 people to go home and a community meeting was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

While the anti-government group is critical of federal stewardship of lands, environmentalists and others say officials should run the lands for the broadest possible benefit of business, recreation and the environment.

So far, law enforcement has not taken action against the group of about two dozen activists opposing the imprisonment of father-and-son ranchers who set fire to federal land.

“These guys are out in the middle of nowhere, and they haven’t threatened anybody that I know of,” said Jim Glennon, a longtime police commander who now owns the Illinois-based law enforcement training organization Calibre Press. “There’s no hurry.”

Some observers have complained, suggesting the government’s response would have been swifter and more severe had the occupants been Muslim or other minorities.

Get the rest at AP

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