Remember the “Shovel Brigade?” Court unsettles settlement.

This was the Bundy gang of the 90s.  The Forest Service decided that it would not rebuild a washed out road along the Jarbridge River in Nevada to avoid impacting the now federally threatened bull trout.  The locals threatened to rebuild it themselves.  The issue in court became “who owns the road.”

Under the Bush Administration, the Forest Service agreed to not challenge the county’s ownership – a substantive concession that a federal district court has just reversed.  The judge said, “Without evidence that Elko County owns the right-of-way, the consent decree gives land of the United States to Elko County without following proper procedural requirements.”

This is how the discretion of federal agencies to settle lawsuits may be limited.

On the question of whether a “road” existed prior to establishment of a national forest, the court required “a demonstration of more than random or merely occasional use.”

3 thoughts on “Remember the “Shovel Brigade?” Court unsettles settlement.”

  1. I certainly remember the “Shovel Brigade” as the Montana timber industry and many Montana GOP politicians (such as our Gov Judy Martz) were leaders in the entire effort to send 10,000 shovels to Nevada to help the locals open up the closed road – laws and bull trout be damned!

  2. Well, I was there.
    Just loved the screams from Frankie Sue del Papa (D) that there was going to be




    We get down there, and the hype had scared thousands away, I’m sure. The road had been there a long time, to an OUTHOUSE and parking area and washed out in flooding — which isn’t the kind of sediment release that snuffs bull trout redds.
    But the road had been in use for a long, long time, right to the edge of the wilderness.
    So there was some hand-digging to the last dry part of the road imprint while another crew humped across the river to hump honey buckets of hiker honey out of the plugged outhouse a half mile further down.. Where were Great Old Broads for Wilderness when there was actual work to be done? By their telephones, waiting for the call from reporters.

    And I’ll bet money Judge Miranda Du has never, ever been there.

  3. Thanks for sharing the experience, Dave. While judges occasionally do get “field trips” when that can help them understand the facts, I don’t think being there would shed a lot of light on who owns the road.


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