In the latest skirmish over a long-disputed dirt road in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, Elko county-rights activists are fuming over the Forest Service’s decision to clean a remote outhouse.
county and the Forest Service have clashed since 1995, when the
agency closed a 1.5-mile stretch of South Canyon Road after most of
it was washed out by a flood. The Forest Service decided repairing
the road would wash debris into the Jarbidge River and damage
important habitat for the threatened bull trout. But a group of
county-rights activists, dubbed the Jarbidge Shovel Brigade, fought
to re-open the route — even convincing Elko County to
bulldoze parts of it (HCN, 10/25/99: Nevada rebellion ends with a
Since then, the Forest Service has agreed to
consider re-opening the road; an environmental impact statement is
due out this year.
In the meantime, the Shovel Brigade
found a new excuse to get access to the area. In August, at the
brigade’s request, the Nevada Division of Environmental
Protection asked the Forest Service to empty an outhouse at the end
of the disputed road. Brigade members volunteered to remove eight
years’ worth of waste (some two-and-three-quarters tons) from
the vault toilet on Oct. 18, using horse-drawn wagons.
But forest supervisor Bob Vaught says the task carried too many
environmental and health risks to enlist volunteers; he hired a
helicopter to complete the job on Oct. 10 “to avoid some kind
of a confrontation.” State assemblyman and brigade member
John Carpenter believes the heli-pumping, which cost $15,300, was a
waste of taxpayer money. “We were going to do it for
nothing,” he says.
On Oct. 18, the brigade broke
ground on a new fight, with a round of print and radio ads warning
citizens to beware of “armed and dangerous” Forest
Service officers issuing citations for off-road