The incident was sparked by what some see as a loss of control to government, and the competing interests of farmers and conservationists. The group took over the facility following a rally earlier in the day for Dwight Hammond, 73, and his 46-year-old son Steven, The Oregonian newspaper reported. The ranchers have already served minimal jail time on arson charges after lighting what they said were controlled fires on their property in 2001 and 2006 which spread to government land.
They said the fires were lit to reduce the growth of invasive plants and protect their land from bushfire but were accused by prosecutors of starting the blaze to cover up hunting violations. The pair were ordered to return to prison after a judge ruled their sentences had been too lenient, according to local media.