Interior Department Oversees National Wildlife Refuges
Published January 4, 2016
WASHINGTON — As the nation awaits the reaction by the federal government to the illegal occupation of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service headquarters and Visitors Center at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon that began on Saturday, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell sent a memorandum via email to Interior Department employees that was obtained by Native News Online.
Other than this memorandum, the federal government has been noticeably quiet on the illegal occupation by the anti-U.S. government group.
The U.S. Department of the Interior oversees national wildlife refuges.
In the memorandum sent on Monday, Secretary Jewell called the occupation an “unfortunate situation” and stated Malheur National Wildlife Refuge employees will work remotely until further notice.
Here is Secretary Jewell’s Statement on Harney County Situation:
This weekend, a group of armed individuals broke into and occupied the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Headquarters facility and Visitors Center at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Eastern Oregon. No Federal employees were in the buildings at the time of the incident, but this is an extremely unfortunate and frustrating situation for all Department of the Interior employees as well as the local community.
We are cooperating with Federal, State, and local law enforcement authorities to resolve this situation as quickly and safely as possible. I am absolutely committed to maintaining a safe work environment that allows employees to uphold the laws of the United States and carry out our mission of responsible public land and water stewardship for the benefit of all Americans. Right now, our foremost priority is the safety and security of our employees so that you can continue to perform your duties and serve the American public. The Bureau of Land Management and FWS offices in the immediate area are closed until further notice and employees in the vicinity have been asked to work remotely while we cooperate with law enforcement authorities to monitor and continually evaluate the situation in Eastern Oregon.
We will make a determination on the operating status of facilities in the area once we can ensure the safety and security of all employees. The ongoing situation in Oregon is a reminder that employees in all offices should remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to your supervisor or local law enforcement.
Thank you for your continued hard work and dedication to our mission in the face of difficult challenges and uncertainty. There is tremendous support for the work we do on a daily basis, even as we witness the unfortunate situation in Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. I am proud to call you a colleague and appreciate your service to the Nation. We will keep you informed of developments in the current situation as they occur.