ELKO - U.S. Senate hopeful John Ensign has added two shovels to the thousands sent here in support of local activists battling the U.S. Forest Service over public land access issues.
Ensign brought the shovels to a Republican gathering over the weekend, telling the Lincoln Day Dinner crowd that constitutional freedoms are diminishing due to actions of the current federal government.
''I will tell you flat-out today that most of what the United States government does is unconstitutional,'' Ensign said. ''If we don't stand up out here in Elko, across Nevada and across America, they are going to continue to get more and more power and give less and less liberty.''
''Listen up, Elko,'' he added. ''I want to tell all Easterners that something enshrined in the 10th Amendment called states rights, whether it comes to nuclear waste or to public lands issues like up in Jarbidge, applies to Nevada as well.''
Local activists have been trying to rebuild a road in a national forest that the Forest Service says would harm the Jarbidge River's threatened bull trout. The road washed out in a flood in 1997.
Ensign presented the shovels to Assemblyman John Carpenter, R-Elko, and O.Q. ''Chris'' Johnson, leaders of the ''Jarbidge shovel brigade.''
The former GOP congressman from Las Vegas also reiterated his commitment to a strong military, saying, ''If we wanted to fight the Desert Storm war today, we could not fight it in the fashion that we fought it in 1991 because our military is not nearly in the capacity that it was back then.''
Ensign also questioned the use of U.S. soldiers in U.N. peacekeeping missions.