Oregon standoff reflects decades-long fight on land rights

A member of an armed anti-government militia walks down a road on January 4, 2016 at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters near Burns, OregonThe occupation of a wildlife refuge by armed protesters in Oregon reflects a decades-old dispute over land rights in the United States, where local communities have increasingly sought to take back federal land. While the standoff in rural Oregon was prompted by the jailing of two ranchers convicted of arson, experts say the issue at the core of the dispute runs much deeper and concerns grazing or timber rights as well as permits to work mines on government land in Western states. “The problem that we are seeing … is how do you manage people who treat the land as though it was their own, even though it was never their own,” said Gerald Torres, a law professor at Cornell University.

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