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Brown: state will seek reimbursement for Harney County standoff costs

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SALEM — Gov. Kate Brown said that Oregon will focus on helping the community of Burns to recover, after the remaining four occupiers at a nearby national wildlife refuge surrendered to FBI agents on Thursday.

Brown said she continues to seek federal reimbursement of state and local government costs associated with the occupation, and she is also talking to federal officials about federal land management issues.

“I’ll certainly be having conversations with our Congressional delegation, and will continue the conversations that I’ve started with folks at the federal level, for example the Department of Interior, (Secretary of the Interior) Sally Jewell,” Brown said. “So we’re just beginning those conversations now, but we’ll be working closely with our federal delegation.”

In late January Brown said the federal government should do more to engage with people on how to manage federal lands. On Thursday, Brown declined to provide any specifics on what she hopes to achieve through discussions about federal land management.

Brown said Oregon has work to do, now that the occupation has ended.

“For the Harney County residents, this has been very traumatic,” Brown said. “The level of harassment and intimidation by folks who were staying in the Burns community has been horrific and the healing will take a lot of time. And I think that is our first mission is to support the Harney County community as they heal, and provide them with the resources and the tools they need to recover.”

Brown also noted that the incident affected the Burns Paiute Tribe.

“This entire incident has been extremely devastating to them,” Brown said. “We will be working with them to provide them with the support and assistance they need as well.”

In January, Brown said Oregon’s response to the occupation had cost roughly half a million dollars. On Thursday, the governor did not have an updated cost figure but said she expects the state will pick up the tab in the short term.

“I think in total costs for Harney County, as well as the local sheriff’s association, will run probably higher than that,” Brown said. “But I’m confident there is bipartisan support in the building for reimbursing those costs.”

Brown said her administration is working with the staffs of U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley to seek federal reimbursement for Oregon’s costs.

The Capital Bureau is a collaboration between the Pamplin Media Group and the EO Media Group. Hillary Borrud can be reached at 503-364-4431 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..