Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story, Nevada's ugly tug-of-war.
"(We say) the federal government has to prove they own the land. And they can't do it." - Dick Carver
Nye County Commissioner Dick Carver is a leader in the revolt of rural counties against the federal government in Nevada.
"We get called Sagebrush Rebels but we're as far from the Sagebrush Rebellion as you can get. They assumed the federal government owned the land. (We say) the federal government has to prove they own the land. And they can't do it. We're on the offensive. We put the federal government on the defense.
"The feds do not have jurisdiction. All you have to do is get your county to stand up and pass resolutions saying that the state owns the land, that counties have a duty to manage resources, that public access corridors are public roads, and that citizens have the right to bear arms. Then, tell the feds to cease and desist.
"Keep it simple and don't compromise. Write to the Forest Service and ask them for the Carver recipe. And if they don't have authority, ask your county for a permit. The county can say, 'If you take action against the permittee, we'll take action against you.' "
"If they cut your grazing permit, you write back 'I'll have to reduce my cattle by 100. Here's a bill for $1,000 a cow unit. That's $100,000.' " - Wayne Hage
Dick Carver says he learned everything he knows from Wayne Hage, a Nye County rancher who is suing the federal government for "taking" his ranch through regulating grazing. Hage, who has studied the history of Western rebellions against the federal government, says:
"I was right in the middle of the Sagebrush Rebellion. So many mistakes were made. The answer isn't shifting from federal to state control, substituting one sovereign for another. There are rights in those lands.
"This issue is not one that came out of the Sagebrush Rebellion. This has been a hot issue at least eight times since 1891. There's been a lot of bellowing, hollering, bawling, pawing the dust, but very little accomplished. The previous seven attempts fell flat because the other side caused us to go down the wrong path, fight the wrong issue, ask the wrong questions. This has to be done right this time.
"If you get involved in an administrative appeal, write to the agency from a constitutional point of view. If they cut your grazing permit, you write back: 'I'll have to reduce my cattle by 100. Here's a bill for $1,000 a cow unit. That's $100,000.'
"They'll say you're crazy. But get it in on the record. The endangered species. That'll be another $100,000. Send the bill with interest. If they write back and say, 'If you want us to pay this bill, go to claims court,' that's what you want. No thief who has to pay for what he steals will steal for long."