U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell visited Burns, Oregon, to meet with community members Monday in Harney County.
Jewell stressed the importance of community collaboration to counter extremism.
She met with Harney County officials and cited the community’s work on sage grouse habitat and other environmental efforts as a model for the rest of the country.
Jewell said Ammon Bundy and others militants picked “the wrong county” to try and build support for an anti-federal government movement.
Bundy and his supporters took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge outside of Burns on Jan. 2, kicking off a 41-day occupation that left one occupier dead and pitted some community members against each other.
Speaking at the Harney County courthouse Monday, Jewell did acknowledge that support for Bundy’s politics have increased, in part because the federal government hasn’t been countering it.
"The federal government is not about marketing and sound bites. We’re in the forever business," she said. "People expect us to do our jobs, not just for the benefit of us, or our children, but generations forward. That doesn’t lend itself to a sound bite."
Jewell also called Harney County Sheriff David Ward an American hero and praised his leadership for ensuing peace in the community during the occupation.