Last updated: 07:00 PM ET, Thu October 13 2016

Did an Anti-Government Standoff Put Malheur, Oregon Back on the Tourism Map?

Destination & Tourism | Janeen Christoff | October 13, 2016

Did an Anti-Government Standoff Put Malheur, Oregon Back on the Tourism Map?

PHOTO: Sage grouse at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. (Photo courtesy Thinkstock) 

Oddly enough, an anti-government standoff may have put Malheur, Oregon, back on the tourist map, but not for the reasons you may presume, according to NPR.  

"A large flock of sandhill cranes squawks overhead as Brenden Quinlan watches what's left of an early season snow storm roll off the massive Steens Mountain; the snow turning to sleet and then rain as it soaks the wetlands of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in remote eastern Oregon,” says Kirk Siegler on All Things Consider. 

Quinlan used to come to the refuge all the time with his father, but was inspired to return after seeing armed militants trying to take over the area last year. 

“Long before the refuge became synonymous with the modern American militia movement, the Malheur was known as one of the most important migratory bird corridors on the West Coast. It is home to more than 300 bird species with a footprint spreading across 280 square miles of protected wetlands and high desert,” Siegler notes. 

And the occupation did leave its mark on the refuge. 

“While the maze of backcountry roads and hiking trails have reopened, the refuge visitor center — including its bookstore, museum and grounds — remains closed due to security concerns,” says Siegler. 

READ MORE: Your Guide to Winter in Oregon

Still, there is renewed interest in the area and the refuge is experiencing a boom in tourism, which Siegler calls “ironic.” 

“Whatever the reason, the fact that there's a boom in tourism is ironic when you consider that the mostly out-of-state occupiers had said they were there to call attention to how the federal government is hurting the economy in the rural West,” says Siegler. 

Right now it’s hard to get a reservation in the area, he says. Even the campsites are booked. 

To find out more, read on here or listen to the story on NPR’s All Things Considered

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