A few months later, nearly 1,000 disgruntled Westerners
paraded through Elko, NV with shovels to protest federal environmental
policy and lend support to residents feuding with the Forest Service over
the washed out road. As many as 3,000 people lined the streets, carrying
shovels, American flags and signs with slogans like, "Tree Huggers: the
other red meat."
[Read about Gloria Flora at: http://www.sunset.com/sunset/Premium/Travel/2003/03-Mar/Heroes0303/Flora0303.html.
Then read about another Forest Service gentleman who ran rough shod over
property owners: http://www.hcn.org/servlets/hcn.Article?article_id=1452.
The property owners showed him the "door". Then ask Preston Drew of
Carnation, WA about this crap. He's had to put up with it for his
entire 30+ year career in the forest.]
In any event, these people were only fighting to open up a road to public
access and stop the very rural Jarbridge River from being designated as critical
habitat for the endangered Bull Trout. They weren't fighting to regain
control of their land from an unconstitutional Critical Areas Ordinance
(CAO). They weren't fighting against a Growth Management Act (GMA)
that uses law, regulation and ordinance to micro-manage a person's land and
steal his or her right of use and hence its value.
So if Nevadans can do it, why the
Hell can't rural landowners in King County and the rest of Western Washington do
it? They have lost and are losing a great deal more than the Nevadans
were losing? Can you imagine the message it would send if 3,000
angry King County rural landowners lined the streets of Seattle carrying
shovels, the American Flag and signs saying: "Tree Huggers: the
other red meat"? Or "Hell NO the CAO, Ron Sims
has got to GO!!!" Or better yet. Can you imagine if pickups,
horse trailers, farm tractors and logging trucks rolled into Seattle at rush
hour with signs all over their vehicles, rallying against the CAO and the
GMA? We would be heard and heard loud and clear, all the way across
America. Then if we did it, others would follow suit and it is
possible that the second American revolution could be born.
But I seriously doubt that there are
3,000 rural landowners (much less 100, 50 or 30)
who would come together to send a message to government that, "We
are mad as Hell and we aren't going to take it anymore". It
is our right to seek redress from our government when it acts in a manner that
is contrary to our Constitution. Which of you will join with me to arrange
such a visit to Seattle, or maybe Olympia? Don't you think it is about
time we did something instead of letting the protest to the CAO die?
Where is the outrage in
King County, or Washington State? Are only Nevadan men and
woman courageous? For God's sake, where "are" the
"men" in our society? Have they so soon forgotten
their pioneer roots? Or have they stuck their fingers into the government
"pig trough" and now won't "bite the hand
that feeds them"? Are they afraid to stand up and I mean
"stand up by word and deed", for what is right and
Perhaps we should just go out and
hire 3,000 brave Nevadans and have them come up here to fight
for us, since we are afraid to get our hands a little
dirty. Let me say that I applaud the courage of the Nevadans, but I see
little to applaud in King County or Western Washington.
The 'Shovel Brigade' effect
Associated Press writer
RENO, Nev. -- While
Congress debates the future of the Endangered Species Act, the Bush
administration's enforcement of the landmark wildlife law is under renewed
scrutiny with its designation of critical habitat for a threatened Western
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last month identified
thousands of miles of streams and more than 100,000 acres of lakes and
reservoirs from the Pacific Ocean to the Northern Rockies as critical to
the survival of the bull trout.
But when it came to a relatively
small stretch of a river in a remote part of northeast Nevada with a
reputation for anti-federal activism, the agency concluded the fish, a
native char that is part of the salmonid family, would be just fine there
without any additional regulation.
Citing a history of "anti-government
demonstrations" and other "substantial conflicts" over the fish and a
bordering road in a national forest, the agency reversed its proposed
action from June 2004 and determined that designating critical habitat
along 131 miles of the Jarbidge River would do more harm than
"There is a growing body of documentation that some regulatory
actions by the federal government, while well-intentioned and required by
law, can under certain circumstances have unintended negative consequences
for the conservation of species on nonfederal lands," the agency
"There are reasonable concerns that a critical habitat designation
in the Jarbidge River may negatively affect cooperative relationships
between federal and local officials and discourage voluntary,
cooperative conservation," the agency said.
The Sept. 23 decision
came as a welcome relief to longtime opponents of federal protection of the
fish in Nevada, including members of the so-called "Shovel Brigade," who
have pressed the federal government for a decade to rebuild the South
Canyon Road that washed out in 1995.
"We can do a lot more cooperatively
than we can in the courtroom," said John Carpenter, a Republican state
assemblyman from Elko. "We don't want to ruin the habitat up there for the
bull trout. We don't want any species to disappear. We just want
But for environmentalists -- who argue rebuilding the road
could help destroy the southernmost population of the bull trout in the
U.S. by damaging the adjacent stream bed -- exempting the Jarbidge River is
the latest example of the administration bowing to political pressure at
the expense of the environment.
"It's not about cooperation. The
Fish and Wildlife Service is abdicating its responsibility to protect
federal lands by appeasing the local opponents," said Michael Freeman, a
Colorado-based lawyer who has represented The Wilderness Society and
Utah-based Great Old Broads for Wilderness in a legal battle over the
Any development or activity planned in an area designated critical
habitat requires the Fish and Wildlife Service to find it would not damage
the area, such as road building or livestock grazing disturbing the trout's
Ironically, one of the biggest proponents of bull
trout protection efforts among federal officials says he agrees with the
decision not to mandate protection of the habitat.
"If I truly would
have felt we would have been able to do 50 percent more by designating
critical habitat, I would have continued to argue that it is necessary, we
need it and to designate it on the Jarbidge River," said Bob Williams, the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's state director for Nevada, based in
Williams rejects the claims that the federal government is allowing
local activists to run roughshod over U.S. law.
"If the Shovel
Brigade was to have gotten their way, they would have gotten it a couple of
years ago and the Forest Service would be paving a four-lane highway to the
wilderness area," he said.
State wildlife officials in Nevada long have
been at odds with federal land managers over protection of bull trout in
the Jarbidge River, arguing the fish that ranges in length from 8 inches
to about 2 feet isn't really endangered and adding it to the list of
threatened species in 1998 was unwarranted.
director of the Nevada Division of Wildlife, said dropping Nevada from the
critical habitat designation was a significant step toward improving the
condition of the fish.
"People have demonstrated that if you understand
their needs and concerns, they will work with you. If you bring in the
heavy hand of the law and tell them what they are going to do, it just
exacerbates the issue," Crawforth said.
Williams said the decision
"If we were to list critical habitat and people
are violently opposed to us doing anything, you are not going to do
anything for the bull trout," he said.
Mike Bader doesn't buy it.
Now an environmental consultant in Montana, Bader was the executive
director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies when he helped organize the
first petition to list the bull trout as endangered in 1992.
said the passage of the Endangered Species Act and a series of
other environmental laws in the 1970s was a response to a century of
failed efforts to protect fish and wildlife.
said, the Bush administration is taking the position that voluntary state
or local protection plans protect species better than federally mandated
"But it is fiction -- self-serving, political fiction,"
said Bader, who also has worked with the National Park Service on grizzly
"You cannot recover a species without habitat, but they
are pretending you an just skip the habitat step altogether. It really is a just
a smoke screen to say they don't want to have any regulation at all," he
"Jarbidge is a pretty good example nationally. The states with the
most political pressure is where the habitat protection drops off," he
Fights over critical habitats have raged for years across the
West, including battles over the northern spotted owl in the Pacific
Northwest, grizzly bears and white sturgeon in Montana and bighorn sheep
and tiger salamanders in California.
Political pressure over
protection of the bull trout gained national attention in fall 1999 when
Gloria Flora, then supervisor of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest,
resigned her job citing an atmosphere of "hostility and distrust" toward
federal land managers in Nevada.
"Fed-bashing is a sport here," she
A few months later, nearly 1,000 disgruntled Westerners paraded
through Elko with shovels to protest federal environmental policy and lend
support to residents feuding with the Forest Service over the washed out
road. As many as 3,000 people lined the streets, carrying shovels, American
flags and signs with slogans like, "Tree Huggers: the other red
That summer at a Fourth of July rally, hundreds protested along
the river and removed a large boulder they dubbed the "Liberty Rock" after
the Forest Service had placed it on the South Canyon Road to block
A legal battle over the road between the Forest Service and Elko
County continues in U.S. District Court in Reno so the effect of dropping
the habitat designation at Jarbidge is unclear.
critical habitat designation seems to mean we're under no further threats
as far as use of that road," said O.Q. "Chris" Johnson, one of the Shovel
"It's silly to consider that fish to be threatened
anyway. It's a prehistoric aquatic relic that has been around for who knows
-- tens of thousand of years? What little activity we could create up there
certainly isn't going to cause it to go extinct."
Elko County's deputy district attorney who has been involved in the legal
wrangling over the bull trout from the beginning, said the habitat decision
probably is best for the community and the fish.
"Every time the
government does something in the Jarbidge area, they have the unintended
consequence of increasing use up in that area," she said. "People go
tromping up there to see what the heck is going on up