An advertisement for Malheur National Wildlife Refuge at the turn off from Oregon Route 78 on Tuesday, January 5, 2016.

The month of January ended up being a bit different than I had anticipated. Mostly, because I found myself spending most of my weekends in the town of Burns and neighboring Princeton, Oregon at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, where armed protesters took control of the buildings and land around the visitor center. Malheur, known for its extensive birding opportunities, is typically quiet in the winter, but in the first week of the year, it was anything but. I watched the media circus on the first few days as we all clamored and jostled for a piece of the story, but as authorities left the Malheur occupants to themselves, the nation seemed to grow weary of story and ultimately, so did a lot of the media. As the occupation stretched for weeks, I found myself working on stories more about the land, the town and the people who call Harney county home. As the occupation comes to an end, I wanted to share some photos of this beautifully desolate place, the welcoming and kind people who inhabit it, and a few of the group of armed occupiers who brought attention (wanted or not) to this area.
Cows in a field along the access road to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge visitor center on Tuesday, January 5, 2016.
A group of men stand guard at the entrance of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge during a takeover of the refuge in Princeton, Ore., just south of Burns, Ore. on Monday, January 4, 2016.
burnsmalheur004 A woman peers into the closed Burns City Hall on Monday, January 4, 2016.
Ammon Bundy and Shawna Cox approach the press before making a statement Monday morning during a takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Princeton, Ore., just south of Burns, Ore. on Monday, January 4, 2016.
A view from a bluff along Oregon Route 205, looking north, between Burns, Ore. and the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Tuesday, January 5, 2016.
burnsmalheur008 A road off of Oregon Route 205 between Burns, Ore. and the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Tuesday, January 5, 2016.
A lone tree along Oregon Route 205 between Burns, Ore. and the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Tuesday, January 5, 2016.
Arizona rancher, LaVoy Finicum, addresses the press during the continued takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, south of Burns, Ore. on Tuesday, January 5, 2016.
Cows in a field along Oregon Route 205 between Burns, Ore. and the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Tuesday, January 5, 2016.
burnsmalheur013 A lone cow grazes in a field along the access road to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge visitor center on Tuesday, January 5, 2016.
Fire and police department buildings in Burns, Ore. on Monday, January 4, 2016.Ammon Bundy addresses the press during the continued takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, south of Burns, Ore. on Tuesday, January 5, 2016.burnsmalheur017 burnsmalheur018 The sun rises along Oregon Route 205 between Burns, Ore. and the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Tuesday, January 5, 2016.
Ammon Bundy drives off after speaking with the press during a takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Princeton, Ore., just south of Burns, Ore. on Monday, January 4, 2016.
A road off of Oregon Route 205 between Burns, Ore. and the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Tuesday, January 5, 2016.
burnsmalheur022 burnsmalheur023 burnsmalheur024 burnsmalheur025 burnsmalheur026 burnsmalheur027 A black-billed magpie along the access road to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge visitor center on Tuesday, January 5, 2016.