Sagebrush Collaboration

How Harney County Defeated the Takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge

This book tells the story of the occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in early 2016, but puts the event in the historical and cultural context of Harney County. The collaborative culture that existed there helped the local community make it through the crisis. Chapter Four on “Collaboration” focuses on local collaborative problem-solving, especially the role of the High Desert Partnership, and is of special interest to rural community builders.

238 pages. ©2018.
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Reader Reviews for this Book


Review posted September 9, 2019


This book shows what really happened in Harney County. As for me, while the occupation was happening, I was confused about who was speaking for the town. The author plainly takes the reader down the road to meet locals and see what great community they had, and still have today. Mr. Walker explains the locals point of view, honestly.


Review posted August 16, 2019


First, thank you for all you do and your book program. This is well written and not a dry academic text. It provided me with a number of insights about what happened at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. I was not surprised by the independence of the county's residence and their desire to make their own decisions. What did surprise me was the lack of support given to the Bundy takeover by the community. I am afraid I had a very narrow and incorrect view of the conservative eastern Oregon community. Figured they would get behind anything that rid them of federal government interventions. Other than telling the story of Harney county and takeover at the refuge, the book is also a good roadmap of how to undertake collaborations. Especially striking to me was it really takes a long lead time to make them work. I also came away with a good feeling about communities and the need for them to pull together. My only complaint is there was a bit of repetition. Overall, a good read.


Review posted August 14, 2019


I have been looking for a good comprehensive overview of this event and how the local community stood up to the outsiders who tried to take over the Wildlife Refuge. This is a good book to show that local involvement from citizens can make changes and can have a large influence.


Review posted June 20, 2019


Great Read! Was an interesting insider point of view for a place that is close to my home in Eastern Oregon.


Review posted June 11, 2019


Great read. Couldn't put it down. The author immersed himself in the community and the occupiers camp and meetings to gather factual information that brings to light the value of collaboration over tyranny.


Review posted June 5, 2019


One of the most interesting books I've read in years. This book taught me a lot about community resiliency in the face of unusual change.


Review posted June 3, 2019


Great information.


Review posted May 28, 2019


This book provides a great overview of the 2016 takeover in Eastern Oregon


Review posted May 24, 2019


Interesting read and information


Review posted May 17, 2019


Having lived through the takeover, I was looking forward to reading this book. It captured many points of view in an unbiased manner. It offered rational for some of the points of view. I found it a very factual account of the event. The photos captured the tumultuous times. It brought back nightmares. I have shared with other friends in the area and they too find it to be a factual account of the occupation.


Review posted April 22, 2019


Outstanding. Peter Walker does great service to the resilient people of Harney County in the face of the misguided, wrongheaded, and threatening takeover of the Malheur Refuge headquarters in 2015-16 by Amon Bundy and his followers. The compelling part of "Sagebrush Collaboration" is the narrative of the occupation of both the refuge headquarters and the town of Burns itself by the openly armed, mostly out of state militia. The second half of the book, however, pays homage to and outlines how Harney county residents including federal employees, ranch owners, timber concerns, and water users have come together over the last decades to find win-win solutions to problems in the high desert. I highly recommend this book to anyone with any connection to rural Oregon. Harney County's hard work at finding solutions to their problems should be a model for landowners, federal and state workers, and environmentalists here and across the country.


Review posted April 17, 2019


As the past director of the Ford Institute I consider this book a triumph of investigation and writing. A major insight is that it was the relationships in the community that were already ongoing that made the community resilient in the face of demanding outside interests. I recognized several names in the book from people who were in the leadership classes, which were about relationships (positive acquaintance), collaboration (just below the top of the Tupelo Model), and local control. This is a must read for anyone in a rural community and should be the topic of scores of group read discussions. If I had a criticism of the book it is that the subject of federal "overreach" emphasized lack of local participation, where my experience it is that agencies, through pressure from environmental and developmental groups, keep expanding their mission (mission creep). Still, I give it five stars and my strongest recommendation to read it and encourage others to, too. And, my compliments to Foundation for making it available.