Malheur Refuge HQ to stay closed for rest of year

Trial for 8 defendants begins Wednesday

A sign at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Feb. 12, 2016 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters, which has been closed since an armed occupation was held there earlier this year, is expected to remain closed for the remainder of 2016.

Oregon Public Broadcasting reports the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is installing security upgrades at the headquarters and visitor center. The federal agency says the work could take until early next spring to complete, but it’s still encouraging people to visit other areas of the refuge.

The roads and wetlands remain open to visitors.

The upcoming trial of eight defendants charged in the 41-day armed occupation is creating additional interest in the refuge. Fish and Wildlife spokesman Jason Holm says the agency is taking security concerns seriously.

The armed takeover started Jan. 2 as a protest against the imprisonment of two ranchers.

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