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Raymond writes: "Although the armed occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge facility may seem to have done little more than camp out with guns and demand snacks, their continuing occupation is costing taxpayers dearly."

Man holds his son at Harney County Committee of Safety town hall called to discuss the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. (photo: Rick Bowmer/AP)
Man holds his son at Harney County Committee of Safety town hall called to discuss the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. (photo: Rick Bowmer/AP)

The Daily Cost of the Bundy Occupation

By Laurel Raymond, ThinkProgress

13 January 16


lthough the armed occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge facility may seem to have done little more than camp out with guns and demand snacks, their continuing occupation is costing taxpayers dearly.

Local and federal government facilities have had to be closed, keeping public employees unable to complete their work. Harney County, which houses the preserve, schools were closed last week, adding teachers to the list of employees on paid leave and preventing students from learning. Police and security has been brought in to protect the townspeople from the armed militiamen — who have threatened law enforcement and other county officials. The occupied reserve, a valuable tourist attraction for the area, is closed to recreators. All of those costs and losses add up.

Cost to the County: $70,000 Per Day

Harney County Judge Steve Grasty told outraged community members that he’d send the Bundys a bill for what they’d cost the county — which he estimates to be “$60,000 to $70,000 a day” for the closed schools and government offices and the drastic ramp-up in security.

Despite Judge Grasty’s threats, he doesn’t seem optimistic about actually recouping their losses. He reiterated the threat to the New York Daily News, but clarified that he doesn’t expect Mr. Bundy to pony up: “Will he pay it? No.”

These estimates for security don’t include the additional cost of the FBI presence and support, just the cost to the rural community around the reserve — which is bearing the brunt of the economic fallout.

Cost to the Federal Taxpayer: $23,400 Per Day

Along with the occupied Malheur National Wildlife Refuge facility, three buildings maintained by the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service have also shut down because of the security threat to employees. The Bureau of Land Management’s district office in Burns, Oregon alone employs nearly 120 employees — most of whom are now on paid administrative leave. The weekly cost of those workers — who now are unable to work — is about $117,000 per week, or $23,400 per day.

Not included in this cost are the 50 additional employees at at the refuge center or the Forest Service’s Emigrant Creek Ranger District office. Many of these workers are also on paid leave, which means the actual cost may be even greater.

Cost in Lost Tourism: $40,000 Per Day

The economic impact of birders, hunters, anglers, and other outdoor recreationalists is no joke. Nationally, these groups contribute some $140 billion and hundreds of thousands of jobs to the economy each year — a strong economic force for many small businesses, towns, and counties like Harney.

The Malheur Wildlife Refuge is no exception. It attracts 119,000 recreational visitors a year, who come to see its 190 thousand acres of prime wildlife habitat, housing 320 species of birds, 58 mammals and 10 species of native fish. These visitors spend around $15 million each year, according to a 2013 report from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

$15 million a year averages down to over $40,000 a day, meaning Harney County has lost, as an estimate, a staggering $360,000 in recreation dollars since the armed takeover began.

Total Cost: $133,400 Per Day

$70,000 in security costs and closed schools. $23,400 in federal salaries. $40,000 a day lost in recreation dollars. The cost of the nine-day takeover adds up to roughly $1,200,600. Each additional day adds $133,400 to the total, and for the beleaguered Harney county, there’s no end in sight. your social media marketing partner


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+21 # Jayceecool 2016-01-13 12:31
Over $100,000 per day borne by taxpayers? The feckless/coward ly feds are shamed by each hour that passes without resolution of this situation...
+8 # Billy Bob 2016-01-13 13:28
The feds can't resolve this or they'll be accused of fascism by many commenters on RSN alone. Imagine how the white-wing will react! The feds are doing the only thing they can do. If they attempt to arrest ANY of them, it will get violent. The lunatics have already made that threat, that's the whole point of the guns. That's the reason they were aimed at the heads of the feds in the last stand-off. The feds COULD overpower them, but the frenzy of conspiracy theorists (who never get this angry when the feds DO mow down blacks) could lead to another Oklahoma City bombing, with many commenters on this site STILL blaming THAT on the U.S. government or saying it was a "black flag" operation.

Basically, we're all screwed.
-7 # indian weaver 2016-01-13 13:45
We're screwed by the feds meaning FBI and HS. We pay these idiots to defend us against terrorists. They work for us (technically only anymore I suppose). They are not doing their jobs. What can be done to trash the FBI and HS offices and remove those cowards sitting at their desks wondering what the hell to do with domestic terrorists. Obama is the coward-in-chief , clueless to the max forever. The FBI and HS are of no use to We The People anymore. They are the enemy as much as the Bundy Boyz in the Hood, even moreso in fact due to the FBI's and HS's permission to use their weapons of mass destruction against all of us, under color of law. I hate the feds more than the Bundy-ites, because the feds are getting paid to protect us. They are not doing their job. They are worse than useless at this point. They are a danger to us, moreso than this bullshit foisted on all of us by Bundys.
+4 # cavewoman 2016-01-13 13:58
Besides, every day that passes makes them look more inept and ridiculous
+5 # Bruce Gruber 2016-01-13 15:24
But jailing the dozen or more righteous, god-fearing idiots for five years (minimum) might cost over a $million additional NOT including court costs, appeals and whatnot.
Think of the costs of Exxon, BP, Monsanto, etc appealing their exploitation disasters while paying no taxes into the system through loopholes and you begin to see where our National "DEBT" comes from ... and why the working stiff (TEA PARTY member or PROGRESSIVE, alike) takes it in the ear ... while that right-wing Congress points its finger at everybody from Obama to Mexicans and Syrian Muslims.

+27 # gdaley 2016-01-13 12:45
Cut the power, lock the location down and freeze or starve them out. It won't take long. They are likely softer than they like to think they are.
-3 # Billy Bob 2016-01-13 13:28
It will be branded as "inhumane". Too politically risky.
+2 # Street Level 2016-01-13 15:40
"Supporters" are sending them supplies, alright. Like boxes of dicks.
Watch this guy whine about "so much hate".
+2 # Robbee 2016-01-13 17:42
$70,000 in security costs and closed schools. $23,400 in federal salaries. $40,000 a day lost in recreation dollars

- i get it!

it is too risky collecting students in classrooms in the very community where gun nuts suddenly abound and roam freely!

so it is unsafe to have school - school is out for, to da! national wildlife refuge occupied days!

how is occupied consistent with the students' constitutional right to community public ed?

over the course of months or years, this story has a serious potential downside, but only for students, if government does not pay for bussing them to some distant schools that can afford to add them!

for all parents there is a huge potential blow to their blood-line's expected life trajectory of success - the deepest cut to every single parent's species dream!

until bussing, eventually government has to react!
+4 # PABLO DIABLO 2016-01-13 18:48
If this doesn't work out for the Bundy Militiamen, they could try a penis enlarger.

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