Making a point in Jarbidge

The Jarbidge "rebels" deserve a word of thanks from the rest of Nevada.

First, we should extend our gratitude to them for standing up for what they believe.

In Elko County, front line of the Sagebrush Rebellion, that means having a say in what happens in their county, to their roads, by their government. They don't like being bulldozed by the federal government, and they have the fortitude to do something about it.

The dispute is over a lonely road in a remote wilderness near the Idaho state line that not many people in the world are every going to visit. Yet it has become the latest symbol of federal bureaucracy blundering headlong toward confrontation with its own citizens and, we believe, trying to make a show of power to those Elko freedom fighters.

A 1995 flood washed out part of South Canyon Road, a rough access used since long before the Jarbidge Wilderness Area was established, and the Forest Service promised to fix it.

That never happened. Instead, federal officials used the bull trout in the Jarbidge River as an excuse to close the road. When Elko County tried to repair it, the feds started assessing fines.

The situation came to a head last week when residents led by Assemblyman John Carpenter planned to open the road with shovels and pickaxes. A federal judge ordered them away, and the Jarbidge rebels instead held a barbecue that attracted 100 or so people.

Anyone is deserving of thanks who continues to poke and prod the federal government, question the reasoning and motivation of its bureaucrats, hold those bureaucrats to their promises and then holler out loud when they back out.

But we also want to thank the Jarbidge rebels for not pushing ahead with what could have been an angry confrontation last Saturday, had they insisted on showing up with their tools.

They made their point.


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