Congressman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) took to the House floor Tuesday and delivered an impassioned speech about the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
The refuge is within his district in Eastern Oregon. He expressed broader frustrations about how federal lands are managed in the American West.
He called on Congress to “understand what drives people to do what’s happening tonight in Harney County.”
Walden spoke about the frustrations of ranchers and rural citizens in Oregon, pointing to what he sees as mismanagement of the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area.
“I have seen what happens when overzealous bureaucrats and agencies go beyond the law and clamp down on people,” said Walden.
He said he’d rather the armed occupiers realize that they’ve made their case and go home. “But I understand and hear their anger,” said Walden.
“To my friends across Eastern Oregon, I will always fight for you,” said Walden, choking up at the podium. “But we have to understand there’s a time and a way.
“Hopefully the country, through this, understands we have a real problem in America: how we manage our lands and how we’re losing them.”