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Mad About the Oregon Militia? Fight Back With Your Pocketbook

The #ServiceNotSeizure project supports veterans, Native Americans, and young people working on public lands.

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Via Wikimedia Commons user Jeff Sorn.

On January 2, a local militia protesting the “tyranny” of the federal government seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, in a remote section of eastern Oregon. Since then, a local sheriff called the occupation “armed and unlawful,” a judge threatened the roughly 20 occupying militiamen with fines totaling many thousands of dollars, and environmentalists say the occupiers’ attempt to take back federally owned land could destroy local wildlife. Meanwhile, Twitter wondered how the government and media would treat the protesters if they were black or Muslim. (Really horribly, many theorized.)

If the prospect of American patriots seizing land that belongs to, well, the United States of America makes you angry, you could travel to eastern Oregon and join local protests. You could also spend your money sending really silly stuff to the militia. But a national nonprofit has a better idea: You could donate funds to help protect public lands—and create jobs in the process.

The Conservation Lands Foundation’s #ServiceNotSeizure campaign is harnessing everyday frustrations with the Oregon militiamen by sending crews of youth, veterans, and Native Americans to work on conservation projects on national lands. The project is is collecting money through a CrowdRise page.

The donations collected by #ServiceNotSeizure (nearly $4,000 so far) will go toward crews’ wages, travel stipends, and health insurance. CLF says it will also help participants qualify for government education awards. The group has employed 80 veterans and young people since launching its conservation corps project in 2008.

“By focusing on the good work we can do, regular citizens with common sense can show that the [militiamen] are on the extreme fringe,” CLF organizer Scott Greenler wrote in a blog post.

(Via The Huffington Post)

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