No end in sight to Oregon militia standoff

BURNS, Ore. -- It's now been more than a week since a group of armed men took over a federal building in Oregon, triggering a standoff with law enforcement. And there's still no resolution in sight.

At a regular morning news conference Saturday, the group holding the wildlife refuge insisted they are here to stay.

"We came here to go to work and help people, and that's what we're going to do," LaVoy Finicum said.

Armed activists refuse to leave federal compound in Oregon

At a community meeting Friday night, residents agreed the federal government exercises too much control here.

"There's so many federal regulations that accrue to federal land," rancher Tim Smith said.

But still local residents have mixed feelings about the occupation. Just three miles from the refuge, rancher Tom Davis and his son Jake continue the hard work of raising cattle on the high desert.

"I think it's probably time for these guys to go home and I just pray that nothing will really happen to them," Tom David told CBS News.

"As long as they don't get violent, I think it's good coverage," his son added.

Good coverage, he says, for the challenges ranchers face across the West, where so much land is controlled by the federal government.

Nearly 53 percent of Oregon is federally owned. It's much the same across most Western states.

Ranchers who often depend on federal land for grazing need permits from the Bureau of Land Management, and complain the bureaucracy can be oppressive.

"All of a sudden the BLM, where it used to have just a few people to manage, now there's hundreds of people in there," Tom Davis said.

While the both the occupiers and local ranchers say they should take control of the land, the leader of the local Paiute Indians says history suggests another answer.

"We, as a tribe, view this is still our land, no matter who's living on it," Charlotte Rodrique said.

The conflict over who controls the West's wide open spaces seems as old as the West itself.

  • John Blackstone
    John Blackstone

    From his base in San Francisco, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone covers breaking stories throughout the West. That often means he is on the scene of wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and rumbling volcanoes. He also reports on the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley and on social and economic trends that frequently begin in the West.