YERINGTON - "We truly are in a war and if we don't win this war we are going to lose our water, lose our land, lose our system of values and lose the ability to self-determination and the ability to control even our own children."
A leader in the land rights movement, U.S. Rep. Helen Chenoweth-Hage, R-Idaho, on Sunday evening told a packed room of more than 200 Republicans that Americans must commit themselves to the battle for freedom.
"This is such a wonderful land of opportunity, we have to stand and fight for what we have. There is no place else to go," she said.
Quoting her husband, Sagebrush Rebellion leader Wayne Hage, she noted, "You either own property or you are property."
Chenoweth-Hage was the keynote speaker at the Lyon County Republican Central Committee's annual Lincoln Day Dinner in Yerington.
Chenoweth-Hage took issue with U.S. Senator Harry Reid's stance regarding attempts by federal agencies to bring additional water into Walker Lake using upstream water rights.
"The issue at Walker Lake is deplorable. For Harry Reid to not stand up and say, instead of we want to save Walker Lake, 'We want to save our ranchers. We want to save our irrigators, we want to save the viability of Yerington and the viability of this county,'" she said. "Nevada law gives priority of water use, including agricultural ... and to save the lake for some ecosystem sustainability is not in Nevada law. I don't care if you are a senator, or who you are, you have to obey Nevada law."
Chenoweth-Hage also attacked President Clinton's land-use policies, including the American Rivers Heritage Initiative, the Conservation Reinvestment Act and his use of "executive orders" that have brought 101 national historic landmarks under joint jurisdiction with the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
"There is no end to the capers this administration will involve itself in to take our land. There has to come a time when we begin to ask ourselves 'Why does the federal government have this lust and greed for our land?'" she asked. "They have become the majority stockholder in this nation. It is time we reversed this."
Chenoweth-Hage and eight other members of Congress have challenged Clinton's use of the "executive order." She also led the movement in the House of Representatives to pass legislation putting an end to joint-jurisdiction of national landmarks. The measure has yet to be approved by the Senate.
Chenoweth-Hage is in her third term representing Idaho's first Congressional District and received many awards for her votes to balance the budget, lower taxes and shrink the size of government. She chairs the House Resources sub-committee on Forests and Forest Health and is a member of the Resources, Government Reform, Agriculture and Veterans Affairs committees.