Nevada Stories

Nov. 16

Las Vegas Sun on Flora resignation

Gloria Flora, the supervisor of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, said last week that a congressional field hearing in Elko on Saturday was going to be an ''inquisition.'' Flora, who resigned last week after citing ''irresponsible fed-bashing'' in Nevada, declined to appear before the House Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health.

The hearing ostensibly was about the U.S. Forest Service's decision to close a road on national forest land, which was used by Elko County residents, that washed out during a 1995 flood. Some environmentalists are concerned that if the road is rebuilt it could endanger the threatened bull trout. ...

So what did the chairwoman of the subcommittee, Rep. Helen Chenoweth-Hage, R-Idaho, and Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., who requested the hearing, have to say Saturday about Flora's concerns? ''This is not an inquisition,'' Gibbons responded. ''Nor is it an 'Elko Witch Hunt,' as some might believe.'' Meanwhile, Chenoweth-Hage said the intent of the hearing was to ''move this contentious and important dispute toward rational resolution.''

Yeah, right.

This hearing included the following ''rational'' remarks from local officials: State Assemblyman John Carpenter, R-Elko, likened the controversy to the Boston Tea Party, and Elko County Commission Chairman Tony Lesperance vowed to rebuild the road ''come hell or high water.''

Flora had every right to expect the worst, especially considering that Chenoweth-Hage chaired the hearing. The Idaho congresswoman recently married Nevada rancher Wayne Hage, who has been in a protracted legal fight with the federal government over his lost grazing rights. Leaving aside her husband's personal interest in settling a score, Chenoweth-Hage has made no secret of how much she despises the U.S. Forest Service's plans to set aside forest lands in the West from development by the timber industry. ...

Despite Gibbons' stated intentions, the hearing in Elko was a waste of time; Flora's prediction that the Forest Service wouldn't get a fair hearing was prescient. If anything, the views of Elko residents and officials seem to have hardened and grown even sharper, eliminating any hope of a reasonable outcome.


Nov. 12

Elko Daily Free Press on Flora resignation

Gloria Flora's so-long letter renewed our pride in Elko County and the whole state of Nevada. The territorial boss of the forest service pointed out that ''fed bashing'' has risen to unacceptable levels here, so she's leaving. Well, it's nice to know at what level of ''fed bashing'' these people will get off our backs. Of course, considering Flora didn't pack up the office supplies and take her staff with her, the ''fed bashing'' will have to rise to even more unacceptable levels.

Oh, and for those unfamiliar with the term ''fed bashing,'' it means, roughly, standing up for the rights of the citizens; pointing out that the people sent out from Washington are most definitely not here to help us; and highlighting examples of gross abuses of power on the part of these rogue agencies. ...

The gist of Flora's resignation statement was that she felt it improper for anyone to be allowed to ''bash'' the lords in the forest service, although her diatribe provides ample proof that she feels it well within her rights to roundly bash anyone standing in her way.

Nevada will be much better off following her departure, and we'd be willing to bet she makes out just fine, landing a job with one of the environmental extremist groups in cahoots with her current employer.


Nov. 17

Reno Gazette-Journal on Flora resignation

Sorry, but there's not much sympathy here for Gloria Flora, who is resigning as supervisor of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. Instead, there is surprise, chagrin and more than a little anger that after only about a year and a third on the job, she pronounces the position too tough to handle. This does the environmental effort no good, it does the Forest Service no good, and it certainly will do her eventual successor no good if fed-haters think that by elevating their rhetoric, they can drive officials to cover. ...

Without question, things are tough in eastern Nevada. This is the home of the Sagebrush Rebellion, the land of cattlemen and others who believe that federal activism is strangling them. When people feel that a way of life is threatened, they tend to get nasty. The urbanization of much of the West, including Nevada, is creating a new view of our land and how to treat it. ...

This does not excuse the excesses of the anti-federal movement. It does not excuse the veiled threats and the dangerously shrill invective, or the plan to actively break the law and rebuild a Jarbidge-area road that apparently would wipe out the southernmost population of the endangered bull trout - a plan that was halted only when a federal judge intervened.

Last week's public hearing by Rep. Helen Chenoweth-Hage didn't help, either - held in the heart of anti-federal country by a congresswoman known to be unsympathetic to environmental issues and whose new husband is a rancher long involved in a bitter dispute with the federal government. The hearing didn't feel fair, and it didn't sound fair, with testimony mostly from the anti-federal crowd. ...

What is needed is an approach that protects the wilds while preserving the rural Western way of life. It can be done, but not with people shouting at each other, and not with federal leaders giving up.


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