"It does not require a majority to prevail, 
but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds."
 --Samuel Adams - Leader in our Fight for Independence


Brigade Declares Victory


Brigade Leader Resigns








































































































Pulling the Liberty


More Jarbidge Pictures

Shovel Brigade Celebrates Independence Day by Opposing Federal Land Closures

First hand account of the Independence Day road opening in Jarbidge, NV from Jarbidge Shovel Brigade veteran, Gary Hall

Driving down from Northwest Montana on July 2, we left the mountains and forests behind. From Hailey (Sun Valley) Idaho south, the dry landscape rolled unbroken to all horizons except for a few distant mountains and the sudden appearance of the Snake River Canyon. At Rogerson, ID, south of Twin Falls, we left Hwy 93, turning to the west. After 35+ miles of sagebrush, a few cows and occasional ranch buildings, we topped a rise and looked down on an irrigated field with a scattering of campers, trailers, tents and pickups. We found space among the cow flops for our tent and settled in for the night wondering what the next couple of days would bring.

The day dawned cloudy and threatening. More shovelers drifted in. At 10 AM three buses left for the Jarbidge Canyon 30+ miles away. By the time they returned at 4:30 PM, the encampment looked more promising. Now there were about 100 separate camps. In addition there were numerous porta-potties scattered about, a water tanker, two food booths, a grand stand with seating, and organization booths selling T-shirts, bumper stickers etc. (all adorned with appropriate slogans). There was NO visible federal presence at all. If there were any greenies around they kept well hidden. There was an abundance of local law enforcement but they stayed on the roads.

Montana was well represented. Jim Hurst’s 30 foot long, shovel decorated picnic table was there as were Dick Austin's two restored trucks all decked out in slogans and flags. Dick’s beautiful, red 1960 Autocar has a public style audio system and he treated us to his good collection of country and patriotic songs. There were at least 11 MFMU members present with their yellow T-shirts showing up all over the field.

Shovel brigade leaders, Demar Dahl, a local rancher, Grant Gerber, lawyer, and Elwood Mose, Shoshone Indian leader spoke to the shovelers after they returned from the "road". Demar talked about the need to reopen the road and the history of the effort. Grant discussed the legal maneuverings including the federal injunction sought by the FS to stop the shovel brigade. The judge sided with the brigade. Elwood characterized those who are being denied access to public lands as the "new Indians" whom the government was trying to put on a reservation.

Independence day was sunny and warm. At 8:30 AM three buses left for Jarbidge Canyon. We were told that the road had been shoveled out by yesterday’s crew but that it needed smoothing and a large rock blocking the way had to be moved. The trip was long and dusty. Camera crews and reporters rode in the buses filming and interviewing along the way. We went through Murphy Hot Springs and Jarbidge before pulling up at the beginning of the barricaded section of road. Jarbidge and the 3 miles from there to the barricades were crammed with as many people and cars as there was room for.

I shoveled on the road for a while and then joined a group that was carrying buckets of "government waste" from the outhouses 1½ miles up the Canyon. They had not been cleaned out in 5 years so the people did the job that the government would not. Everything we did in the closed area had to be done without mechanical equipment to avoid legal prescriptions. Although the FS claimed that we were acting illegally and threatened to arrest us, the judge did not agree and the FS did not show up.

By noon we were ready to move the 5 ton rock that blocked the road. There were more short speeches followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and the Star Spangled Banner. The blockading rock had been encircled with chains and three large ropes were attached. The brigade eagerly filled all the places on the ropes. At the count of three approximately 300 freedom lovers pulled and the rock, now named the "Liberty Rock", jumped out of its hole. At each call of "heave" the rock moved about two feet. We were energized. We could have pulled the Liberty Rock up the side of the canyon if necessary. We moved it about 35 feet until the roadway was clear. Then the first pickup, which carried Helen Wilson, the oldest resident of Jarbidge traveled over the newly reopened section of road and returned followed by the first ATV. The brigade then returned to the staging area and disbanded. BUT WE WILL RETURN IF NEEDED.

Observations and Comments

The events in Jarbidge Canyon on Independence Day, 2000 were intended to symbolize the resistance of Americans to government efforts to lock them out of their public lands. Although most of the brigadiers were from the western states, especially Idaho, Nevada, and Montana, there were shovelers from all across America and at least one from Canada. I personally worked alongside a commercial fisherman from Rhode Island and a computer technician from Georgia. The states represented included New Jersey, So. Carolina, Florida, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah, California, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon, Colorado and others.  Close to 1000 attended the road opening although they did not all assemble in one place at one time. Some worked in the Canyon on Monday, some on Tuesday and some on both days. There were probably 500-600 present for the moving of the Liberty Rock.

On July 4th a message was sent to the USFS. It was very clear but it would have been louder if more had attended. Time will tell if the message was received in good faith.

A message was also sent to Americans who have not heard or responded to the call to resist the restrictions the federal government has placed on our use and access of public and private lands. Citizens in the West have been voicing their opposition to these policies for years. The fact that so many traveled from all over the country to join the brigade is evidence that the message is beginning to be heard. The press coverage of the grassroots uprising in Jarbidge was the most extensive ever for an event of this kind which is usually ignored by the national press.

The Independence Day shoveling was another step in the physical reopening of the Jarbidge Canyon road which used to provide citizens access to the public lands in the area and emergency egress for the residents of Jarbidge and Murphy Hot Springs.

I heard many people say that this day, July 4, 2000 was the best Independence Day celebration of their lives; that they would not have missed it for anything and that they would do it again if necessary. I feel the same. Yet I almost did not go. The FS national campaign to intimidate and discourage shovelers from attending was pretty effective. Who wanted to take the time and money to travel to a remote canyon in Nevada with the very real possibility of being arrested, fined, or imprisoned when the outcome of their effort was uncertain. Wouldn’t it be much better to stay home and be comfortable with friends and family? Nevertheless I and hundreds of other Americans made the sacrifice and were glad that we did.

We are blessed in America because patriots like the Jarbidge veterans did not stay home. What if Patrick Henry had said " Give me Security and give me Life" and curled up on the couch? What if the Minutemen had hidden in their cellars instead of confronting the Redcoats at Lexington and Concord? The brigadiers repeatedly spoke of the revolution, the constitution and the founding fathers. They were consciously engaged in the struggle to establish and preserve Liberty in America. We were successful on Independence Day. Our voice has been heard. But it is muted because many who would have and could have did not speak out by coming to Jarbidge. The next time you have the opportunity to stand for Freedom, please do not be intimidated. Do not be lulled into complacency thinking your efforts are not needed. Do not allow yourself to be immobilized by media representations of the struggle as futile, unnecessary or foolish. Do not make the mistake of thinking that a little tyranny in some remote corner of this land will not affect your liberties.

The founding fathers knew that the revolution would never end; it would merely enter different phases. There will never be a shortage of oppressors. Their personalities change but their intent is the same. STAND UP, SPEAK OUT, JOIN THE FREEDOM BRIGADE.


Shovel Brigade Declares Victory

The United States has agreed to dismiss its suit against Demar Dahl and the Jarbidge Shovel Brigade, according to a communiqué issued today by all parties involved in the dispute.

"The road [South Canyon Road] is open and the county has its RS2477 Right of Way. Those were the two purposes for which the Shovel Brigade was formed. We claim victory," said Jarbidge Shovel Brigade leaders Demar Dahl and Elwood Mose today. Dahl, president of the grassroots citizens group, was named individually in a suit brought against him and the Brigade by the U.S. Forest Service that was mediated yesterday in Reno.

Mose, vice president of the group, Dahl and hundreds of people from all over the country, gathered in Jarbidge on the Fourth of July to unblock the road that had been blocked by the Forest Service with a huge boulder. The boulder was manually pulled away from the center of the road using ropes and a small portion of the road was rebuilt by hand that same day utilizing shovels.

Soon thereafter, the Forest Service surveyed the area and determined it would ask the U.S. Justice Department to file suit against Dahl and company for conducting an event without a permit involving more than 75 persons and for "earth disturbing activities" and trespass.

Dahl and the Brigade agree in the settlement that state and county laws apply to any work they wish to do on county roads and county authorization must be had prior to any work being done. Both parties agree the settlement is not to be construed as an admission of liability or wrongdoing by either party "nor shall the terms hereof have any value as legal precedent in any other case." Dahl and the Brigade also agree not to perform any work on the South Canyon Road without obtaining permission to do so from the county, with a copy of that permission "delivered to the Forest Service prior to starting work."

The six-paragraph announcement ends with the disclaimer that, "This agreement is contingent upon the execution of the agreement between the United States and Elko County. If that agreement is not executed, this agreement is void." The deal also makes it clear to whom fealty must be paid regarding the sovereignty of federally-owned lands. "Nothing in this agreement shall be construed to limit the United States' authority to manage federally owned land or natural resources in accordance with federal laws."

Dahl said today, "I was not going to let these negotiations be conducted in secret. I wanted to give everyone who sent a shovel for the road opening an opportunity to see what we are considering."

Both sides agreed to embargo the public releasing of the results of the settlement until noon today, after which the Brigade issued its victory statement.

Forest Service spokesman Erin O'Connor said today both sides would meet again April 2. That meeting is to finalize the wording of the agreement, which was issued in draft form today.

The proceedings were presided over by federal Magistrate Judge Robert McQuaid.

This article appeared in People For the Usa written by  GARY BÉGIN March 06, 2001


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The Jarbidge Shovel Brigade is planning further activities in Jarbidge and elsewhere.  Consider joining Montanans For Multiple Use as we support the Brigade.  Go to our membership page for more information. 


To The Shovel Brigade:

For several years I followed in the newspaper the sequence of events as they unfolded in the South Canyon at Jarbidge, the washed out road, the lack of repair, attempted repair, citation, and listing of the fish, etc. with no intention of getting involved myself. Then someone talked me into going to see what the Forest Service had done at South Canyon and I was offended by what I saw.

I was not surprised that so many others, when they began to understand what had happened there, were also offended. The closing of the road at South Canyon seemed to me to be a clear violation of the trust the government has to act as the servant of the people and I have an appreciation for those who recognized early on the importance of what was taking place at Jarbidge and for their efforts to help us all understand.

The Forest Service was determined to make the South Canyon off limits to the masses, but in spite of threats from the Justice Department, the road was opened last July 4th which, I think, was a credit to Elko County and its combined determination to protect its interests. There was overwhelming support for an effort that was important for preserving what rights we have left to property within our country.

It's unfortunate that the conflict over the road was not always well understood. The short piece of road at South Canyon is of only limited importance. What it represents is of considerable importance. The concept that the right to property, such as the RS2477 right of way for the County and its citizens is important and was the issue at South Canyon.

Our rights to the land we live, work, and play on have been badly eroded and we must protect what we have left. Whoever controls the access, controls the land. If the Federal Government secures exclusive control of access to what they consider is their land, they will exclude all but a few from their domain.

Some were critical of the road opening, which of course was their right. Among the critics were politicians from both in the area and out of the area. It is easy to overlook the criticism of those who are not from Northern Nevada and were not close enough to the situation to understand the significance. I gained an appreciation for those politicians who, besides being anxious to speak before the big crowd at the Shovel parade, had the courage to be front and center when the road was opened. My greatest respect is reserved for the unsung heroes who raised the money, did the work, and helped in many different ways to open the road.

The road is opened and we will never allow it to be closed. If there are high level bureaucrats that are able to prevent the road from being repaired and would rather have vehicles driving through the river than over bridges, so be it. The road however, will remain open and, even if not repaired, by use and in time will re-establish itself.

It is more than just a cliché to say the price of freedom is eternal vigilance and I believe there will always be a need for Shovel Brigades.

This Shovel Brigade is made up of all of you who helped in any way to open the South Canyon Road and I salute you all.

I have served a year as president of the Brigade and am now resigning with the hope that in this great land we may forever live free.

Demar Dahl, Starr Valley





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