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Jarbidge residents: No comment on road, bull trout

By DAVE WOODSON, Staff Writer

Residents of Jarbidge turned out Wednesday at the town's community
center to attend an Elko County Commissioners meeting but none expressed
an opinion on the South Canyon Road issue or the federally protected
bull trout in the Jarbidge River. (Dave Woodson/Elko Daily Free Press)

JARBIDGE - Residents of this small and isolated mountain community had
nothing to say to county commissioners Wednesday about the dispute over
South Canyon Road and the federally protected bull trout in the Jarbidge

Not a single resident commented on either issue during a county board
meeting held in Jarbidge, despite a specific agenda item to gather
community input.

"I was real surprised by that," said commission Chairman Mike Nannini.
"That's why we had it on the agenda was to get some public comment."

U.S. Forest Service Mountain City District Ranger Dan Dallas had the
opposite reaction.

"To be honest, I wasn't (surprised)," he said. "They just want some form
of access."

He said for Jarbidge residents the situation with the road is a fact of

"More of the people that are driving the issue in Jarbidge are in Elko,"
he said.

Nannini, however, said he believed the lack of comments was an
indication the community supported the commissioners' position on the

"Apparently, they are satisfied with how we are handling the situation,"
Nannini said.

Dallas told the county board there had not been any significant action
on the issue since the Forest Service began working on its environmental
impact statement for the road.

"As far as the situation itself, it hasn't changed a great deal," he

Dallas was joined at the meeting by newly appointed Ruby
Mountain/Jarbidge District Ranger Paul Flanagan.

"There was some discussion with the commission that we felt we could
move forward with the Environment Impact Statement in conformance with
the most recent judge's decision," Dallas said. "At this point we are
moving forward with the county."

U.S. District Judge David Hagen set aside an Elko County and U.S. Forest
Service agreement in June 2003, ruling there isn't enough evidence that
South Canyon Road is an RS 2477 road - the historical designation for a
county road that existed before 1909.

Dallas said the Forest Service identified three potential options on
methods to proceed following Hagen's decision.

He said the first option is to attempt to get judicial approval of the
original settlement agreement between the county and the Forest Service.
That agreement calls for the county to pay $50,000 in habitat
rehabilitation and $150,000 in in-kind road for relocation of the road.

Dallas said the second option is for the Forest Service to provide the
county with an easement under the Federal Lands Management Act.

That option, however, isn't favored by either the county board or
Assemblyman John Carpenter, R-Elko, although it has caught the interest
of state Sen. Dean Rhoads, R-Tuscarora.

"The other option is the county moving forward with the RS 2477," Dallas

County board members in June agreed with Elko County District Attorney
Gary Woodbury that if necessary the county would continue to litigate
the issue of South Canyon as being an RS 2477 road.

"Because the EIS does include the three different options for ultimate
ownership or control of the road, we did send out a scoping notice to
the people who are involved in these options," Dallas said.

He said the scoping notice allows the public to comment on the three

Nannini also asked if the Forest Service had received any response from
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concerning the listing of the bull
trout in Jarbidge River as endangered. Fish and Wildlife published a
"Draft Recovery Plan for Jarbidge River Population of Bull Trout" in the
federal register in June.

At the request of Gov. Kenny Guinn and a legislative committee the
public comment period on that draft has been extended until Nov. 25.

Ed Mottig, a Forest Service deputy forest supervisor, said Fish and
Wildlife acknowledged it had received the Forest Service's comments. He
said Fish and Wildlife indicated it might be unable to finish the review
of the Forest Service comments within a 45- to 60-day time frame.

Commissioner John Ellison said he suspected the Fish and Wildlife delay
was politically motivated.

"You can tell them guys I think it is a bunch of BS; they are dragging
their feet waiting for a presidential election instead of doing their
job," he said. "It's a crock."
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