On Oct. 9, we made a trip to Jarbridge. The trip from Charleston to Jarbridge at this time of year presents the most spectacular and magnificent vistas you can imagine. In Jarbridge, we enjoyed one of the finest barbecues we have ever attended. There was good food, good entertainment and a camaraderie that only comes when a group comes together with a single-minded purpose.
We went to see for ourselves what the controversy over the South Canyon Road is all about and to judge for ourselves the right and the wrong.
We were not disappointed, the evidence is clear.
Elko County repaired a road that had been washed out by flood waters. The Forest Service deemed that the repair was illegal since it was done without their permission.
In a destructive and apparently vindictive retaliation, the USFS dumped tons of debris in the form of soil, clay, sand, gravel, cobbles and boulders onto more than a thousand feet of the South Canyon Road. As a result, this prevented access to, at least, four major campgrounds and many more individual campsites as well as access to the wilderness area.
It was absolutely clear that the forest service had done extensive damage to the road and ultimately to the streambed, since the flood waters were likely to transfer their "fix" back into the river.
We were prepared to join the work crew, helping to restore the road, but were prevented from helping by a temporary restraining order issued by Federal Judge David Hagen in Reno. We honored the restraining order even though we questioned it. The venue (...the county in which a cause of action occurs...) is Elko County, not Washoe County, and therefore, any legal action should originate and be conducted in Elko County.
Judge Hagen has ordered Assemblyman John Carpenter, County Republican Chairman, O.Q Chris Johnson and local attorney Grant Gerber to appear in his court in Reno on Oct. 22. The court hearing should be in Elko. Regardless, an extension of time is surely justified to allow these men and possibly others the time to prepare and to adjust their schedules or alter previous commitments.
We are now convinced that the efforts of these men and other participants are well justified.
According to a new release in the Oct. 9 edition of the Elko Daily Free Press, Judge Hagan was influenced in his decision by two U.S. attorneys from Las Vegas who convinced him that restoring the road would endanger the bull trout. Nothing could be further from the truth.
It is likely that neither of the U.S. attorneys nor Judge Hagen have ever been on the South Canyon Road in Jarbridge, and it is almost certain that they have not been there when the river is at flood stage each year.
If the bull trout can survive the onrush of tons per minute of silt, sand and gravel that roar down that riverbed each springtime, they can surely survive a slight discoloration of water that may occur during a simple road repair.
In contrast, the damage the the forest service has done will cause more erosion than nature intended and infinitely more than was done by Elko County or even could have been done by a pick and shovel crew.
We have seen and we are convinced. Hats off to Carpenter, Johnson, Gerber, et al for their courage of conviction and determination to overcome bureaucratic oppression.
We urge all Elko County citizens and others everywhere to please get involved.