Grant Gerber slates Historic Grass March

Rex Steninger, Courtesy of the Elko Daily Free Press,

May 23, 2014

Grant Gerber will head out horseback at daylight Monday on his Grass March and will be greeted with a parade when he reaches Carlin. The parade will wind its way through town and head to the Equestrian Park, where a welcome celebration is planned.

During the festivities, Gerber will resume his march to Battle Mountain, where he plans to hand off petitions seeking the removal of Bureau of Land Management Director Doug Furtado to a Cowboy Express that will deliver the petitions, Pony Express style, to the Governor’s Mansion in Carson City. Separate rallies are being planned all along the way.

Gerber, an Elko County Commissioner and local lawyer, is staging his march to call attention to the plight of the ranching families affected by Director Furtado’s decision to close the Argenta Allotment to grazing this summer. Furtado cited the three-year drought when he announced the closure in February, but rains since then have caused the grasses in the allotment to flourish. The allotment has been judged by Bob Schweigert of Intermountain Range Consultants to be in good shape.

“When I proposed this march to my family, my son, Dallas, pointed out it was similar to Ghandi’s Salt March in India in the 1930s that eventually led to the citizens of India gaining their freedom from the dictatorial rule of the British government,” the commissioner explained. “The British government had a total monopoly on all salt. All salt had to be bought from the British government. In Nevada, the federal government has a monopoly on Nevada land and the grass. The government owns 87 percent of Nevada’s land and also exercises total control of much of the private land as well. The effective control of the government exceeds 92 percent of the grass in Nevada.”

The allotment under contention in Lander County, according to figures gathered by Allie Bear, is only 46 percent public land, yet the BLM exercises absolute control. The allotment lies within the 40-mile wide railroad corridor in which every other section of land was deeded to the rail companies. The closure prevents the use of 186,172 acres of privately held land that the Tomeras either own outright or lease.

“We believe that it is the inalienable right of Nevadans to have freedom and to enjoy the fruits of their toil,” Gerber said. “We believe also that since the agencies of the federal government are depriving Nevadans of their rights and oppressing them that the control of the federal lands must be transferred to the State of Nevada. If any government deprives a people of their rights and oppresses them, the people have a right to alter that government or abolish it. The British government in India not only deprived the Indian people of their freedom, but was ruining India economically, politically, culturally and spiritually. The same thing is happening in Nevada.”

“I will be the Cowboy Gandhi,” he declared.

Carlin Mayor Cliff Eklund said the Carlin community is supportive of the families facing the BLM closure. “The ranching community is very important to the economy of Carlin and all of northern Nevada and we welcome the opportunity to show our support.”

Carlin’s parade is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Monday at the East Carlin Exit from Interstate 80 and end at the Equestrian Center, where food and refreshments will be available. Jess Jones of Lamoille also is organizing a mini-rodeo for the event.

Mayor Eklund said several speakers will be on hand to discuss the ongoing grazing dispute with the BLM and the Furtado petition will be available for those interested in adding their names.

In addition, Gerber is encouraging all the area’s Dutch Oven chefs to plan on attending and preparing their favorite recipe to share with the crowd. Andy Boyer of Elko will be on hand driving a chuck wagon pulled by a pair of while mules.

The Cowboy Gandhi will then mount back up, circle the arena and resume his Grass March to Battle Mountain. “I plan to ride as long and as hard as my old body can stand and arrive in Battle Mountain late Tuesday or early Wednesday.”

After Gerber’s 70-mile Grass March the Furtado petitions will be handed off at daylight Wednesday morning to the Cowboy Express that will relay them to Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Rallies are being planned along the way in Winnemucca, Lovelock, Fallon and Carson City and the petitions always will be available for more signatures.

The Cowboy Express is an ambitious undertaking, Gerber explained. He already has had calls of support from Las Vegas, southern Idaho, Round Mountain and the Nevada Division of the National Pony Express Association. Still the journey from Battle Mountain to Carson City is over 200 miles and much of it will have to be ridden at night, so more riders will probably be needed. Help also would be appreciated to organize the rallies in the various communities. Those interested can call Gerber at his office, 7389258, or on his cell phone, 934-7507.