'Sagebrush Rebellion' author dies at 58

A memorial is scheduled Friday for Dick Carver, the feisty Smoky Valley rancher who drew national attention to the second Sagebrush Rebellion.

Carver, a Nye County commissioner since 1989, ended up on the cover of Time magazine after he defied the U.S. Forest Service and used a county bulldozer to reopen Jefferson Canyon Road on July 4, 1994. The government had closed the road and a number of others on federal land in the county.

He died Thursday at Nye Medical Center at age 58 after a yearlong battle with a malignant brain tumor.

Jackie Holmgren, a Mineral County rancher who ran unsuccessfully for the Nevada Assembly last year, said Carver was "at his very best" when he used the bulldozer to defy the Forest Service.

"Dick stood for how the majority of Nevadans felt about our state basically being run by the federal government," Holmgren said.

Don Bowman, Carver's half brother and chronicler of the fight to take control of federal lands in Nevada, said Carver never stopped fighting to put control of the land back in local hands. The federal government controls 87 percent of Nevada's land, and groups headed by ranchers and miners have waged an unsuccessful battle for years to force federal officials to turn the land over to the state.

"He wanted to get a bigger county voice," said Bowman. "That was his main goal because he felt the county commissions weren't being paid enough attention. He felt they were the closest to the people and they should have a bigger role."

Federal officials attempted to fine Carver $82,855 for damage to the land after he opened Jefferson Canyon Road, but he refused to pay with, "There's no way Nye County or Dick Carver will give them one penny."

Bowman said the government never got a cent. The county worked out a deal with the federal government over management of public lands in the county.

"Nye County has pretty much maintained jurisdiction over their roads since that happened," he said.

Bowman said there is a movement in Nye County to turn the old bulldozer into a monument to Carver in Tonopah.

Carver, who ran a small ranch north of Tonopah with his family, is survived by his wife, Midge; mother, Jean; three brothers; a sister; and an extended family of six children, 10 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

The Friday memorial will be at Smoky Valley High School Gym in Hadley.


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