Judge says counties aren't supreme

  In a blow to the county supremacy movement in Nevada, a federal court charged an Elk County resident with trespassing and ordered him to remove his cattle from a national forest.

The court said Cliff Gardner illegally moved livestock onto the Humboldt National Forest in May 1994 despite repeated Forest Service requests that he apply for a permit (HCN, 10/30/95). During the trial, Gardner claimed that under the U.S. Constitution's "Equal Footing Doctrine," the state of Nevada owned his grazing lands. Judge David Hagen quickly rejected this assertion, writing that under "unambiguous Supreme Court precedent, there can be no reasonable doubt that the national forests are the property of the United States and rightfully managed by the Forest Service." Gardner said he would appeal.

Forest Service officials in Nevada were delighted. Agency attorney James Perry sent a memo to Forest Service employees, asking them to "liberally distribute copies of the attached decision so that the public may become aware of the serious deficiencies in the legal theories espoused by the county supremacy advocates."

" Heather Abel