The Sharp family, a group made up of siblings ages 6-20, came all the way from Kansas for Saturday’s event. (KOIN)
BURNS, Ore. (KOIN/AP) — A rancher from New Mexico renounced his U.S. Forest Service grazing contract at an event held Saturday by an armed group occupying a national wildlife refuge in Oregon to protest federal land use policies.

Adrian Sewell of Grant County, New Mexico, took the action at the event attended by about 120 people at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. A group led by Ammon Bundy began occupying the refuge in eastern Oregon on Jan. 2. The group plans to open the 300-square-mile refuge for cattle this spring.

“I don’t mind standing out and standing alone,” he said.

Bundy, who had previously met with local ranchers urging them to tear up their federal contracts, also said he wasn’t disappointed that Sewell was the only one to take him up on his idea.

“I’m very happy he came all the way from New Mexico,” Bundy said.

The Sharp family, a group made up of siblings ages 6-20, came all the way from Kansas for Saturday’s event. The youngsters stayed overnight at the compound.

Emmelina Sharp and her siblings held their hands and hats over their hearts as they sang for the crowd.

“We sing just to bless people,” Emmelina told KOIN 6 News.

She also sang praises for Ryan Bundy, who she said fixed their car after a breakdown.

“He fixed the transmission for us,” she said. “We went back to Cliven’s ranch and sang their for the national day of prayer.”

Critics of Bundy’s group also attended Saturday’s event, which was held a few hours after a small counter-protest nearby.

Kieran Suckling with the Center for Biological Diversity said the leaders of the armed group want to “stage another occupancy like this and to terrorize those towns the same way they have terrorized Burns. There’s no town in the west that wants to be the next Burns.”

Katie Fite from Boise, Idaho, called the occupiers bullies and said their action could give rise to other hate-filled efforts to take over public lands.

Despite tensions as militiamen and environmentalists clashed after Saturday’s meeting, Emmelina said she “absolutely” felt safe.

“We went to the Bundy ranch 2 years ago and it was one of the most amazing experiences in my life,” she said. “The Bundys are incredible people.”

Federal authorities are trying to resolve the 3-week old standoff, but have so far made no moves against Bundy’s group. On Friday Bundy met briefly with a federal agent at the airport in Burns, but Bundy left because the agent wouldn’t talk with him in front of the media.

The short meeting occurred as Oregon officials are putting increased pressure on federal authorities to take action. The FBI has said it’s seeking a peaceful resolution to the standoff.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has said she’s angry because federal authorities have not dealt with Bundy’s group.

Bundy, speaking to The Associated Press late Friday while sitting at a desk inside one of the refuge buildings, dismissed the governor’s request.

“It just again shows the ignorance of some of our elected officials,” he said. “It’s just amazing that she would just disregard the Constitution to the point where she would think it would be OK to give the federal government that authority to come in and take some dynamic action or something like that.”

The group has recently bolstered a front entrance blockade with timbers and set up another checkpoint at a back entrance. The AP was not allowed to enter the area Friday without an escort from an armed militant.

KOIN 6 News contributed to this report