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The militants settled into the refuge and set up defensive positions.

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By late 2015, the Hammond case had attracted the attention of Ammon and Ryan Bundy, who planned a protest against the re-sentencing, though the Hammonds rejected their assistance.

However, the protest still went into effect on January 2, 2016, and resulted in the Bundys and associates staging a 40-day armed occupation of the headquarters area of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

This was with their knowledge that the trial would proceed to sentencing where the prosecution intended to seek imposition of the mandatory five-year minimum sentences. On his last day on the bench before retiring, October 31, 2012, Hogan instead sentenced Dwight Hammond to three months' imprisonment and Steven Hammond to a year and a day's imprisonment, which both men served.

the government (represented by the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Oregon, led by U. Attorney Amanda Marshall) successfully appealed the sentence to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Disputes between cattle ranchers and the federal government over management of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge have gone on for "generations" and the situation has regularly deteriorated to taunts and threats directed at federal officials from ranchers since at least the early 1970s.

In an effort to address concerns of neighboring landowners and interests, the recent completion of a 15-year management plan for the refuge heavily involved various stakeholders, including ranchers, in its development process.

Over the ensuing weeks, Bundy and Payne met for approximately eight hours with Harney County Sheriff David Ward to detail plans for what they described would be a peaceful protest in Burns, as well as also requesting the sheriff's office protect the Hammonds from being taken into custody by federal authorities.

Though Ward said he sympathized with the Hammonds' plight, he declined Bundy and Payne's request.

The agency reminded Hammond of the required burn permit and that if the fires continued, there would be legal consequences.

In 2012, the Hammonds were tried in federal district court on multiple charges.

During a break in jury deliberations, partial verdict were rendered finding the Hammonds not guilty on two of the charges, but convicting them on two counts of arson on federal land.

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