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Know the West

A letter fans the flames


When Humboldt-Toiyabe Forest Supervisor Gloria Flora resigned last November, she said local hostility toward federal employees was a major reason for stepping down (HCN, 11/22/99: Nevadans drive out forest supervisor). Now, a letter has surfaced from a county official that supports her words.

In a Dec. 30, 1998, letter to public land-use advisor Gene Gustin, Elko County District Attorney Gary Woodbury suggested that local businesses stop selling goods or services to the Forest Service "until they come to their senses." The Forest Service had closed a road over local protests to protect habitat for the bull trout, a threatened species.

Besides advising "community non-cooperation" with the Forest Service, the attorney proposed that Elko County sponsor a speaking program and radio and newspaper ads urging a boycott of the agency. Woodbury also suggested the possibility of "veiled threats of criminal prosecutions of federal employees who arguably violate state law by this office."

A team sent to investigate Flora's fed-bashing claims in February, however, failed to find enough evidence for criminal prosecution.

The letter apparently did not surface in any official discussions until a March 2000 county commissioners' meeting. There is no evidence the county undertook the recommended actions.

Woodbury recently defended his letter, comparing his suggestions to the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott inspired by Rosa Parks. "And have you ever seen the sign in restaurants that says 'No shirt, no shoes, no service?' " he told the Elko Daily Free Press. "Would you not agree that the restaurant is denying service because of a social policy?"