WASHINGTON D.C. — U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River, on Wednesday came to the defense of two Harney County ranchers, requesting that President Donald Trump pardon Dwight and Steven Hammond.

In his remarks on the U.S. House floor, Walden noted that the two ranchers were sent to prison for starting a fire on the range, which Walden said was being used as a management tool.

After the ranchers’ original trial, the federal judge hearing the case refused to sentence them, Walden said. However, the Justice Department, in the Obama Administration, appealed and the pair were sentenced to five years.

“But they never should have been sentenced to this,” said Walden in his comments. Commenting the Hammond’s fire only burned 139 acres, he said, “We burn hundreds of thousands of acres every year. The government starts fires that burn onto private land nothing seems to happen.

“It is time for the President to review this situation and to grant a pardon to Steven and Dwight Hammond — pull them back to their families,” Walden continued.

“It’s time for real justice, and President Trump can administer that.”

Hammonds arrest and imprisonment were used as a pretext for the take-over and stand-off at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge for several weeks by people protesting government range management policies in 2016. However, the Hammonds disavowed by the protest.

Load comments