U.S. Fish and Wildlife director Dan Ashe said at a news conference
in Oregon on Wednesday those costs included $1.7 million for
restoration of the refuge near Burns and increased law enforcement
patrols elsewhere after the six-week occupation, which ended on Feb.
In response, Michael Arnold, an attorney for protest leader Ammon
Bundy who faces conspiracy and weapons charges in connection with
the occupation, said the government should not use the protest as a
blank check for unwarranted expenses.
"This protest should not be a government expenditure lottery
ticket," Arnold said. "I've only heard of one wall damaged in the
whole set of buildings."
The protest marked the latest flare-up in the so-called Sagebrush
Rebellion, a decades-old conflict over federal control of millions
of acres in the West.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife spokesman Gavin Shire said on Saturday, in
response to Arnold's contentions, the agency's figures include a
"range of damages," from roads and trenches created by the occupiers
to the harm inflicted on sacred American Indian artifacts.
"The amount does not address – as no dollar figure can – the
emotional harm that service staff and their families suffered as a
result of the hostile takeover," Shire said.
The agency had to relocate 17 employees from the center, when those
workers moved with their families to major cities because of threats
against them, Ashe said earlier this week.
[to top of second column]
U.S. Fish and Wildlife also spent $2.5 million to station more law
enforcement officers at its Western facilities, because it feared
anti-government protest could spread beyond eastern Oregon where
armed activists staged their occupation, Ashe said.
That represented the largest share of the more than $6 million spent
by the agency, Ashe said.
Oregon lawmakers this month voted to set aside $2 million for Harney
County, the location of the protest, to reimburse it for police
overtime and other costs if the federal government does not
underwrite those expenses.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which headed a law enforcement
operation to encircle and arrest several of the anti-government
protesters, has not released its expenditures from the occupation.
More than 25 participants in the protest have been charged in
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Bill Trott
and James Dalgleish)
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