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President pardons Harney County ranchers whose imprisonment launched refuge takeover

Malheur County Sheriff Brian Wolfe said he was pleased that President Donald Trump commuted the federal prison sentences of rancher Dwight Hammond and his son Steven Tuesday. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell).

WILLOW CREEK – Matt Rockwell was moving cattle Tuesday morning when his cell phone pinged.

The local rancher and president of the Malheur County Cattlemen’s Association read the message on his phone.

President Donald Trump had just pardoned the federal prison sentences of rancher Dwight Hammond and his son Steven, whose incarceration for starting a fire on federal land sparked anti-government protests and the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016. They ranch adjacent to the refuge, southeast of Burns.

As soon as Rockwell finished with the cattle, he returned . . .