Judge blocks BLM grazing permits for Hammonds

Father and son ranchers at center of land dispute

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - A federal judge has blocked the grazing permits issued to Eastern Oregon father and son ranchers who were the focus of a battle about public lands.

Oregon Public Broadcasting reports that Judge Michael H. Simon issued a temporary restraining order Tuesday, stopping the permits granted to Dwight and Steven Hammond by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke earlier this year, before he left the Trump administration.

Environmental groups had sued over the permits, arguing they were granted in violation of Bureau of Land Management policies.

The Hammonds served jail time for setting fires on federal pastures in Eastern Oregon. They became a cause celebre for brothers Ryan and Ammon Bundy in 2016 when a federal judge brought the Hammonds back to jail to serve a longer sentence.

President Trump pardoned them last year.

The Bundys led a takeover in early 2016 of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns as a protest of federal land-use decisions and policies.

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