To rural landowners, government types, interested parties and the News Media:

In the following article from Reno, NV, (thank you Norm MacLeod) a group of angry Nevadans got together and opposed the Federal Government about what; ....... to get them to open up a washed-out forest service road to public access and to stop them from listing the Jarbridge River as habitat for the so-called endangered Bull Trout.  Thousands of Nevadans (a group called the Shovel Brigade) took the matter into their own hands and protested en masse against the government.  From what this article says, they won.  It proves that if enough people rise up, changes can occur. 
 
Some excerpts from the article:
 
"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 said.  (to bad it is not a sport here)

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 just?  
 
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.
 
 
Ron Ewart
Fall City, WA
425 222-9482

The 'Shovel Brigade' effect
 
By SCOTT SONNER
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 trout species.

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 good.

"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 said.

"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 access." 

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 road.

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 spawning areas.

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 Reno.

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.

Terry Crawforth, 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 was clear. 
 
"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.

Bader 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.

Increasingly, he said, the Bush administration is taking the position that voluntary state or local protection plans protect species better than federally mandated designations.

"But it is fiction -- self-serving, political fiction," said Bader, who also has worked with the National Park Service on grizzly bear research.

"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 said.

"Jarbidge is a pretty good example nationally. The states with the most political pressure is where the habitat protection drops off," he said.

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 said.

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 meat."

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 access.

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.

"Removing that 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 Brigade's founders.

"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."

Kristin McQueary, 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 there."