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PRINCETON, Ore. — Deep inside the federal wildlife compound where armed citizens have been garrisoned for more than a week, 9-year-old Zoey Justus was preparing a snack platter for the occupiers — fruit, cheese, Ritz crackers — and her parents were explaining why they had brought her to an armed insurrection.

“Something I want to teach her is to not make decisions based on what’s easy or what’s comfortable, but to decide for herself what’s right,” said her father, Kody Justus, 44, a rancher in a cowboy hat and a paisley kerchief who had driven from three hours away. “And that’s what these guys are doing.”

It is week two of what is billed as a citizens’ occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, the 187,000-acre expanse seized by a band of ranchers and others who want the government to relinquish control of federally owned land, turning it over to local control. But the community the protesters purport to represent — the people of surrounding Harney County — is begging the protesters to leave, even if its residents also bristle at the federal government’s ownership of vast tracts of Western land.

“I just want them to go home, so that I can feel safe,” said Ashlie Presley, a 15-year-old high school student who delivered an anguished, tear-filled plea at a community meeting Monday night in Burns, the Harney County seat. The packed gym gave her a standing ovation.

Two parallel dynamics are playing out in rural Harney County, population 7,000: One, the energetic and almost festive activities of the protesters in the wildlife sanctuary, who whooped as they ripped down a government-built fence on Monday, using an excavator stolen from the refuge. The authorities, seeking to avoid a shootout, have responded only with statements of condemnation.

The other dynamic is developing outside the compound. The county shuttered schools last week, citing safety concerns. Arguments over the occupation have erupted in church, death threats have been made against federal employees, and a judge’s wife has taken up her pistol, fearful of a gunfight in town.

The judge, Steven E. Grasty, announced at the community meeting that the county lost $60,000 to $70,000 a day in the first week of the occupation — the cost of security measures and wages for teachers who never taught — and said he planned to send the bill to the protesters.

Unfamiliar people have been stalking refuge employees, idling outside their homes and questioning them at some of the few grocery stores in Burns, said the sheriff, Dave Ward. “While not direct physical threats,” he said in a statement recently, “these activities are clearly designed to try to intimidate.”

Tensions escalated over the weekend when another band of outsiders arrived at the refuge’s entrance, toting long guns and promising to act as liaisons between law enforcement officials and the occupiers at Malheur. When the occupiers rebuffed the group, the newcomers headed to the county courthouse, surrounded it and demanded to meet with the sheriff. He acquiesced, but nothing came of the meeting.

Inside the occupied compound, life has settled into a sort of giddy war-room-style routine, one that mixes the mundane — laundry, snowball fights, nap time for the children — with bellicose talk of facing down federal agents and heading off what some people holed up in the compound say is a government plan to force all Americans to move to cities by 2040.

“We expect the federal government to voluntarily step back, observe the Constitution and back off,” Ryan Bundy, who is leading the occupation with his brother Ammon, said in an interview at the compound. “They better back off,” Mr. Bundy continued. “If they don’t, then this is going to continue to happen.”

On Tuesday, the occupiers emerged once again at the entrance to the refuge, and a spokesman for the group, LaVoy Finicum, a rancher in his mid-50s from Arizona, stood before the microphone to announce that the protesters would travel to town on Friday evening “to explain to the community why we are here and when we will be leaving.”

The refuge sits about 30 miles from Burns, in a remote area past snow-covered ranches and a single restaurant labeled “saloon.” The Bundy brothers, sons of a Nevada rancher named Cliven Bundy who made national news in 2014 for facing down the federal government over grazing fees on public lands, say they came here to support Dwight L. Hammond and his son Steven D. Hammond, who have been jailed for arson for setting fires that burned federal lands. However, the Hammond family and other local ranchers have said they do not welcome the gesture.

The protesters, most of them from outside Oregon, have blocked off the entrance road with a conscripted government vehicle, and each morning they haul out a photo-ready horse named Hellboy for a quick news conference with reporters. The landscape is surveyed 24 hours a day by a rotating cast of armed watchmen who climb into a fire tower with broken windows.

Each morning at 4, a man named Duane Ehmer takes Hellboy on a pre-dawn inspection of the refuge, an 1860 cavalry pistol clipped to his hip. “I’m looking for anybody that ain’t supposed to be there,” he said.

The heart of the protest, however, is a quarter-mile from the biologist’s office, at a bunkhouse with bedrooms and a large kitchen where women marinate chicken, grill salmon, bake brownies and organize a stockroom that swelling with donations from around the nation. To slip in, a reporter just has to ask.

“We are here because we are needed. We were asked to come,” said Debra Bass, 61, a Nevadan who is running the kitchen. Speaking of Harney County ranchers, she said, “Our hope is to lift them up and give them the courage to fight back.”

On any given day, there appeared to be about 25 people on the compound, though the number varies with visitors. The Justus family was visiting from Baker City, Ore., where they say they have been frustrated by management coming from Washington, D.C., including a plan they said would close hundreds of miles of roads in their area. “It’s like New York asking me to run a subway,” Mr. Justus said. “It doesn’t make sense.”

Other visitors included Matt Wandersee, 26, a barber from Texas; Kristi Jernigan, 44, who described herself as a Christian missionary from Tennessee; and Paul Nelson O’Leary, an Idahoan who came dressed as one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

“I’m just here to spread love,” Ms. Jernigan said, refilling a bowl of yogurt-covered pretzels. “I’m not really interested in politics.”

But others clearly are. Shortly before the 7 p.m. dinner call, a former Marine named Jon Ritzheimer, 32, sat down on a bunkhouse couch. “This is tyranny, plain and simple,” Mr. Ritzheimer said, referring to federal power.

“I’m not saying we don’t need land management,” he continued. “I’m just saying we don’t need the federal government doing it.”

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