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Show Of Support For Embattled Southern Oregon Miners

Liam Moriarty/JPR

Two Oregon men accused by the federal Bureau of Land Management of illegal mining got a boost Thursday as dozens of supporters held a rally in Medford.

Rick Barclay is one of the owners of the Sugar Pine Mine in Josephine County. Standing in the bed of a pickup truck, he told the crowd the BLM’s order to shut down his mine was an example of federal over-reach.

Rick Barclay: “Somehow they have the concept that their administrative rules trump our rights as citizens that are guaranteed by the constitution.”

Barclay and his partner were served with a Cease and Desist order last month. The BLM says the men are running a more extensive mining operation than they’re permitted to. But the miners say their operation is grandfathered in and doesn’t require additional approval.

The dispute got a higher profile earlier this month when the miners asked the local branch of an armed citizen group called the Oath Keepers to protect their mine from government action to confiscate or destroy their equipment. The Oath Keepers were prominent in the standoff last year between the BLM and Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy. 

The miners have filed an appeal of the BLM order. The Oath Keepers say they’ll maintain their presence until the men get their day in court. 

Liam Moriarty has been covering news in the Pacific Northwest for three decades. He served two stints as JPR News Director and retired full-time from JPR at the end of 2021. Liam now edits and curates the news on JPR's website and digital platforms.