BLM stumped by squatter

  • Not his trees: Ken Medenbach

    Dean Guernsey
  Ken Medenbach, a former militia member who "seized" 10 acres of federal land in spring, is still causing headaches in central Oregon. BLM managers planned to escort Medenbach back onto federal land to retrieve his possessions and then close the case. But Medenbach, who was barred from the land by court injunction, showed up with a local reporter to say he had no plans to remove his squatter's cabin and that the disbanded central Oregon militia would come to his aid. "We're trying not to give too much attention to Medenbach," says Jim Kenna of the Bureau of Land Management. "He seems to just thrive on media attention." Even though Medenbach, who hasn't paid taxes since 1975, began logging the 10 acres last spring, the BLM was slow to respond, perhaps partly because the Oregon carpenter had been seen drilling with an AK-47 assault rifle. Local officials finally managed to jail Medenbach May 16 on older, unrelated driving convictions, but he was released under a permanent injunction barring him from the property. Kenna says federal agents inventoried damages to the land - he cut more than 30 trees - but they have no plans to pursue a criminal case.

*Franklin Tate

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