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FBI Estimates Malheur Occupation Costs At More Than $1.2M


A Washington County Sheriff's vehicle blocks the road leading to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The 41-day armed occupation of the refuge ended Thursday, Feb. 11.

A Washington County Sheriff's vehicle blocks the road leading to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The 41-day armed occupation of the refuge ended Thursday, Feb. 11.

Dave Blanchard/OPB

The 41-day armed occupation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge cost Oregon counties at least $1.2 million, according to documents obtained by OPB.

The FBI prepared the cost estimate Feb. 13. It illustrates how the counties incurred those costs, from lodging and meals to fuel expenses and overtime.  

The Harney County School District paid some $16,000 for security and counseling services – the school district also spent $160,000 in wages for teachers and staff to stay home during the first week of the occupation.  

Meanwhile, more than $700,000 was spent on backup law enforcement in the area from police and sheriff’s departments across the state. Nearly 200 law enforcement officials from 35 agencies worked 3,678 regular hours during the occupation, according to the documents.  

Of the $700,000, the biggest expenditure went to 4,588 overtime hours for law enforcement, costing those departments more than $400,000.  

The figures compiled by the FBI do not include costs incurred by the Oregon State Police, which played a visible role in assisting the FBI.

Clackamas County spent more than any other department assisting Harney County, racking up $136,000 in costs. Meanwhile, Lane, Marion and Multnomah counties each spent more than $60,000.

Lodging costs alone for all of the assisting law enforcement topped $52,000.  

Local and state officials were in Washington D.C. this week, lobbying the federal government to reimburse counties for the costs.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., and other Oregon representatives have introduced federal legislation and amendments since the occupation ended that would shift some of the costs to the federal Interior and Justice departments.

“The vigilantes who occupied the Malheur Wildlife Refuge for over a month sapped resources from local and state governments and inflicted tremendous damage to a valued national resource,” said DeFazio in a statement Monday. “It will take time, money and hard work to clean up the destruction left behind.”

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