Road closure upheld

The road dispute in Jarbidge may finally be at an end.

In 2000, at the behest of an anglers group, the U.S. Forest Service decided not to reopen South Canyon Road to protect the bull trout in the Jarbidge River. It pitted two groups of Westerners against each other—those who fish and those who dislike federal authority.

After Forest Service blocked the road, a number of Nevada figures—many of them law and order Republicans like John Carpenter and Demar Dahl—announced they would reopen “their” road in violation of the law. On July 4 that year, a “shovel brigade” of volunteers went to the site and repaired the road, removing a boulder the USFS had installed to block use.

Since then, the case has been in and out of court—the U.S. Supreme Court declined to get involved—with the U.S. Court of Appeals twice ruling against Elko County, which had championed the brigade.

Federal Judge Miranda Du has now ruled against the county again, citing the Ninth Circuit’s finding that the Forest Service cannot “ignore federal law.” It will now be up to the Elko County Commission whether to head back to court for another appeal.

Jarbidge is in northeast Nevada near the Idaho border. It is one of the least developed regions in the United States, near an area identified by the Center for International Earth Science as one of the three most remote and untouched by humans in the nation.