Editor’s  note: This posting was authored by Pat Ford. Here, he introduces a statement posted on Facebook today by the staff of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Many years  ago, Pat served as the executive director of ICL. Most recently, he was  the executive director for Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition. Pat lives in  Boise, Idaho, and periodically contributes to the ICL blog.

Many of you may have already seen this. Here is the voice of those who work at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. What a welcome voice. May it be spread across the country.

An open letter to our friends, our supporters, and many curious about what’s going on here.

From: The Staff of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
To: Our Friends, Partners, and the American Public

Many have asked us to comment on the ongoing situation at Malheur NWR.  We have refrained because we care deeply for the community, and want  to ensure our words do not inflame an already heated situation.  However, we believe it is important that our views and position are  known.

We believe many in the media (as well as those sympathetic  to the illegal occupiers) were surprised to hear that the  community-while frustrated with the Hammond situation-did not leap to  the support of the militants. We are not surprised.

For over  100 years, our Refuge employees have been members of this community.  We study, watch our kids play basketball, worship, commune, and interact  with our fellow Harney County citizens-not as a ,we vs. they’-but as an  ,us.’

In a community with nearly 40% of working adults  engaged in some form of government, we are all touched or involved in  the public process. In Harney County, that means we talk. We have cups  of coffee. We have arguments. Together we knit our brows, and  together we knit scarves. We understand what those currently occupying  the Refuge don’t understand—that Harney County isn’t afraid of tough  talk.

We can have effective disagreements and either find  resolution, find compromise, or simply agree to disagree. But we do it  with respect for the rule of law, and know that our areas of agreement  and cooperation are infinitely more powerful than the differences we may  face. Mostly, we face those differences together with open dialogue  and open gates-not intimidation and threats. We have access to each  other, because we are not afraid to confront difficult situations or  have difficult conversations.

It pains each of us that we are  missing our obligations to you-as church leaders, as 4-H advisers, as  friends, and as school volunteers. We hope to be back soon and pick up  where we left off.

From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you  for your support. We know (as you do too) that it is not our Refuge  that has been occupied; this is Harney County’s and America’s Refuge.

We are excited to be part of the eventual healing process for our  community. We believe that this difficult situation will lead to even  stronger bonds between the Refuge and the community that has supported  us. We feel for you, because we are you.

We will get through this-because:
We. Are. Harney. County.