3/12/2001 -- --
PORTLAND, ORE - Trout Unlimited, the nation's largest trout and salmon conservation organization, today expressed concern over recent agreements negotiated between the U.S. Forest Service and Elko County that purport to resolve the dispute over the South Canyon Road near Jarbidge, Nevada. TU is particularly concerned that the Forest Service has apparently dismissed its litigation against the so-called "Shovel Brigade."
"All law-abiding citizens in the United States should be alarmed that the Forest Service chose to negotiate with law-breakers rather than enforce the federal laws that protect the land that belongs to all of us," said Scott Yates of Trout Unlimited. "This will only encourage future violations of the law in similar disputes and further intimidation of federal officials."
While expressing concern about the process that led to the agreement, TU remains confident that, if both parties carry out the agreement in good faith, the South Canyon Road will not be rebuilt. The agreement requires any proposed road reconstruction comply with all federal laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. It was the operation of those laws that prevented the rebuilding of the road in the first place.
"We've been down this road before," said Yates. "The Forest Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service have concluded that the road cannot be rebuilt without harming bull trout. Reversing those conclusions now would require more backflips than an Olympic gymnast."
TU is committed to adhering to the process and to using all means at its disposal, including legal action, to protect the resources of the Jarbidge River. With the right-of-way of the road now residing with Elko County pursuant to the settlement, they are now specifically responsible for preventing harm to the threatened bull trout.
"Trout Unlimited has focused all along on the resources of the Jarbidge and the requirements of the laws that protect these resources," said Yates. "This settlement does not end our commitment to those resources and to the rule of law."
Scott Yates, TU Western Native Trout Director: 503-827-5700 x. 13, cell. 503-319-2210
Alan Moore, TU Western Communications Coordinator: 503-827-5700 x. 10