Cross-country convoy planned

By JEFFRY MULLINS, Associate Editor

ELKO, NEVADA - 7/24/02 - - Jarbidge Shovel Brigade members are planning a cross-country convoy to southern Florida this fall to support agricultural producers who
say they are being swamped out by the federal government. The local brigade will team up with Klamath Bucket Brigade and volunteers from Ohio to lead a fund-raising auction similar to one that helped raise money for farmers in Oregon's Klamath Basin last year. Brigade members say the problem in Dade County is similar to those in Elko and Klamath because it involves placing the needs of endangered species above man's property rights. But Shovel Brigade attorney Grant Gerber said farmers in Florida are facing a situation opposite Klamath's - instead of having their water shut off by the federal government, they are being
flooded out.

More flooding is planned this year, according to David Friedrichs, executive
director of the Dade County Farm Bureau. Damage to crops has exceeded $100 million, he said.
The Shovel Brigade was successful last year in affirming Elko
County's right
of way on South Canyon Road at Jarbidge, where listing of bull trout
the Endangered Species Act has held up repair of the road. Klamath
contacted Gerber for help when the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation shut
off their
irrigation water to preserve lake levels for short-nosed sucker fish
coho salmon, also listed under the Endangered Species Act.
The critter being blamed for southern Florida's problem is a type of
"The environmentalists claim that flooding is necessary to protect
the Cape
Sable Seaside Sparrow," Friedrichs wrote in a letter to the shovel
bucket brigades. "Imminently qualified scientists have disputed their
claims, but the federal government is persisting in bringing
destruction to
our families by destroying our private land."
Agriculture is the second-largest industry in Dade County, home of
metropolis of Miami. Farmers grow citrus fruit, avacados, mangoes,
tomatoes, and a number of other crops, as well as ornamental plants.
Instead of a "Sagebrush Rebellion," farmers in the area are planning
"Sawgrass Rebellion." Sawgrass is the preferred nesting ground of the
endangered sparrow.
The Army Corps of Engineers has been manipulating water levels in the
for several years, Friedrichs said Thursday, "with flagrant disregard
their own prescribed procedures."
He said the agency has allowed water levels to rise and, coupled with
rains that have been falling the past week, the water table is so
high it is
harming the roots of plants. The trees could begin dropping their
fruit, he
said, or even die because of the flooded roots.
"So our situation has moved from one of antagonism and irritation to
outright critical," he said.
In 1989, Congress passed a law calling for the Army Corps of
Engineers to
construct flood protection around the area, Friedrichs said. It took
years of scientific study to come up with the plan, he said.
"Everybody agreed that this project would deliver the required water
to the
Everglades National Park," Friedrichs said, as well as the
supplies for agriculture, industrial users such as rock mines, and
public consumption. All agencies, including the U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Service, agreed to the plan.
That was 13 years ago, but still nothing has been built.
In the mid-1990s, the agencies begin working to modify the water
plan because of the endangered sparrow, Friedrichs said.
Scientists reportedly have made recordings in which they can hear the
he said, but "I'm not real sure they've ever actually seen one."
The science used to determine the listing has never been
peer-reviewed, he
said. Congressmen on the House Resources Committee last week approved
a bill
that would amend the Endangered Species Act to allow such review.
Meanwhile, the south Florida economy is suffering.
"The bottom lines is they'd just as soon farming go away down here in
Dade and they could do something else with the land, and it's just
classic illustration of the government's desire to take property any
they can," Friedrichs said.
Farmers on Florida's west coast also are being affected and will
in the "Sawgrass Rebellion," according to Don Lester of Naples. He
about 4,000 people from his area will join the convoy in October.
Friedrichs and Lester said they were impressed with the success of
shovel and bucket brigades in getting water restored to Klamath
Farmers in the basin have been getting their full water supply,
according to
Bucket Brigade President Bill Ransom, but water release expectations
being lowered because of a return to drought conditions.
The official classification of another "dry" year will no doubt
result in
more lawsuits over Klamath's water, he said.
Ransom said he couldn't put a dollar amount on the losses, but
have reported drops of 50 percent or more in sales.
Dale Rapp of Darby, Ohio, said farmers and other property owners
there will
join the convoy. They still have hundreds of shovels that the
Shovel Brigade sent to help in their successful battle against the
government. Plans to buy out farmers for a wildlife refuge have been
dropped, he said.
The Darby case was similar to Klamath's in that soldiers were given
land "in
perpetuity" for their service to the country, then the government
tried to
take it away. Rapp said the government doesn't like the current
situation in
which private farmers own the water rights in the valley.
Gerber said it may be time to start collecting shovels again. Elko's
shovel, which once stood on the courthouse lawn, will be taken on the
Florida convoy as well as a giant bucket built for Klamath's
Gerber said cross-country convoys were in the planning stages last
year when
the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks occurred. They were postponed again
spring after the government agreed to restore water to Klamath
Despite the delays, the property rights movement is gaining steam as
interests are being affected, according to Jay Walley of Paragon
in New Mexico. Walley is helping publicize the convoy and Florida's
He said the protest is garnering broad-based support that includes
the Cuban
community, Indians and blacks, as well as white farmers and
Smaller property owners are becoming more affected by the
movement, he said.
"So it takes on an entirely different complexion now," Walley said.
Instead of just going after farmers and ranchers and loggers and
miners, now
the environmental movement is taking its toll on small residential
owners in semi-rural settings.
He said the tools being used to separate property owners from their
go by various names, but all amount to "condemnation by conservation."
Recreationists are another group that has joined the battle.
Mike Martsolf, president of Nevada United Four-Wheelers, said his
group is
ready to get involved.
Brigade members plan to start the convoy around the first of October.
branch would begin at Klamath Falls, Ore., and another at Darby. The
convoy would travel through Elko.

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