A University of Oregon geography and environmental studies professor nearly became a part-time resident of Harney County after the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Peter Walker, whose fieldwork took him to the remote Eastern Oregon county before, during and after the takeover, recently released a book chronicling his observations and subsequent research. Walker will talk about his book and experiences during the upcoming First Draft Writers’ Series.

The publication, “Sagebrush Collaboration: How Harney County Defeated the Takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge,” was released by Oregon State University Press in October 2018. In November, the High Country News recommended it as one of the season’s best new reads. The Oregonian calls the book “readable and well-organized.”

The free event is Thursday, March 21 at 7 p.m. at Pendleton Center for the Arts, 214 N. Main St. After Walker’s presentation, there will be an open mic for local writers to read from their work.

“Sagebrush Collaboration” offers the first book-length study of why the 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge failed. Deeply rooted in research, Walker’s account provides insight into the takeover, including the response of local and federal officials and the grassroots community resistance.

After more than two years of intensive fieldwork, Walker said “Sagebrush Collaboration” shows that “the militants failed in their objectives because the sensible and hardworking citizens of Harney County had invested decades in collaboratively solving the very problems that the militia used to justify their anti–federal government revolution.” Neighbors who at times disagreed with each other, Walker said, recognized the importance of working together.

Working at University of Oregon since 1997, Walker studies the social factors that shape human interactions with the environment, with emphasis on the rural American West and Africa. He earned a master’s degree at Harvard and a doctorate at University of California, Berkeley.

Showcasing notable Pacific Northwest authors, First Draft Writers’ Series meets the third Thursday of each month. For more information about the writers’ series, call 541-278-9201 or visit www.pendletonarts.org. For more about the book, search www.osupress.oregonstate.edu.


Contact Community Editor Tammy Malgesini at tmalgesini@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4539

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