BLM protest: ‘Marching’ on horseback to a mountain instead of the sea

On Monday, May 26, Memorial Day, a group of Nevadans are planning what they are calling a Grass March — a 70-mile horseback trek from Elko to Battle Mountain to publicly protest and bring attention to the plight of ranchers who are methodically having their grazing rights on federal land stripped away by federal agencies.

The organizers are styling the “march” after Gandhi’s 1930 Salt March from Sabarmati to Dandi, India, to protest the British colonial monopoly on salt. The Salt March was the opening salvo in a series of non-violent acts of civil disobedience highlighting tyrannical British policies. It garnered worldwide public sympathy and helped lead to India’s independence.

Gandhi’s Salt March in 1930

March organizer Grant Gerber, an Elko County Commissioner and attorney, said the federal bureaucracy, particularly the Bureau of Land Management, has the same stranglehold on Nevada land and grass as the British had on Indian salt supplies.

“The British Government had a total monopoly on all salt,” Gerber noted. “A citizen of India was even prevented from distilling a little salt from ocean water for his family. 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 the land, but also exercises total control over much of the private land as well. The effective control of the government exceeds 92 percent of the grass in Nevada.”

Gerber, along with his sons and former Assemblyman John Carpenter, R-Elko, are inviting people to join in the Grass March to help raise awareness of the threat to ranchers, many of whom have worked the land for generations — some going back prior to Nevada statehood.

Gerber will ride the first 20 miles from Elko to Carlin on Memorial Day. There, Carlin Mayor Cliff Eklund is planning various events at the rodeo grounds in support of the ranchers. On the 27th Gerber will continue the ride covering 15 to 20 miles per day, depending where he camps. His sons and others will provide assistance along with support at least part of the way from an old chuck wagon to be pulled by a team of white mules.

“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 — the control of the federal lands must be transferred to the state of Nevada for the protection of the citizens 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. (A close paraphrase of the Declaration of Independence.) 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.”

The Grass March is partly in response to recent restrictions by the BLM on ranchers in Lander County who have for generations grazed cattle on Mount Lewis.

In 1964 the BLM forced the ranchers on Mount Lewis to cut their cattle and sheep grazing by 50 percent, even though half of the land was privately-owned, as are all of the water rights. The ranchers had been grazing their cattle on the mountain since 1862, two years before Nevada became a state.

In the 1980s the state of Nevada bought out the Tomera Ranches in Elko County to build the South Fork Reservoir. The Pete Tomera family then bought the Marvel and Horn ranches on Mount Lewis.

The Tomeras, along with three Filippini families and others, have been grazing the mountain ever since. The Tomeras own 80 percent of the grazing rights and most of the water on the mountain. The Tomeras own more than 80 springs, 12 wells and 183 miles of streams.

The Tomeras and their neighbors say they have always paid the grazing fees.

In February the Bureau of Land Management informed the Tomeras that it was cutting the grazing on Mount Lewis by 100 percent for 2014, Gerber said, leaving the three Tomera families no place to graze 1,800 head of cattle. This was after the families built an $80,000, 16-mile fence in an attempt to satisfy the BLM’s demands — to no avail.

Attorney Gerber, who represented the Tomeras on legal matters in the past, told the Tomeras that filing suit to force the government to let them graze their cattle this year would be pointless. It would take too long for a BLM administrative judge to act, and during that time the Tomeras and their neighbors would be prevented from grazing.

By the time they could appeal in a real court they would have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and missed years of grazing on the mountain, Gerber predicted, saying the actions of the BLM just this past year and so far this year have already cost the Tomera family over $300,000.

“The government and their friends in the radical environmental organizations claim that they know best and that by cutting grazing they are doing good for wildlife and the land.  But that is not true,” Gerber says. “In 1828 when Peter Skene Ogden, with thirty trappers and hunters, was sent into Nevada to explore and trap by the Hudson Bay Company he found a barren country.”

Ogden’s party passed through the Battle Mountain and Elko areas, but never killed a deer, an elk, a buffalo, a sage hen or a wild horse. They had to kill and eat their own horses to even survive.

It wasn’t until ranchers began irrigating the land that wildlife flourished, Gerber points out. The livestock plowed up the ground with their sharp hooves and their fertilizer improved the soil so that plants could flourish.

Since the 1950s, Nevada cattle grazing has been reduced by more than 50 percent and sheep grazing by more than 90 percent. As a result of the massive grazing reductions huge fires have been occurring regularly burning millions of animals, Gerber says.

Those wishing to participate or inquire about the Grass March may contact the organizers at: or by phone at 775-934-7507.



29 comments on “BLM protest: ‘Marching’ on horseback to a mountain instead of the sea

  1. Reziac says:

    Some interesting photos from the 1870s:

    Those following the modern range wars might note that some of the really barren areas have much more plant life today than they had in their native state…

  2. Bruce Feher says:

    Will the BLM beat them with bamboo sticks?

  3. Vernon Clayson says:

    The ride will get a little local publicity but the main stream media will largely ignore it, or if they mention it at all it will be in mockery. Whatever else it may be it will be treated as in meaningless by Harry Reid and Obama. They may not even have definite plans for the land, for them it’s just control over it, ranchers and cattle be damned. As for English tyranny, they were mild in comparison to the current Washington DC cabal, the English were, after all, imposing themselves on foreign lands and people, our tyrants are from among us, nevertheless enemies to us.

  4. nyp says:

    Who are these tyrants, these members of “the current Washington DC cabal”?

  5. Athos says:

    Pinocchio, Greid, Pelousy, et al.

    Those should get you pointed in the right direction, petey.

    Oh wait. YOU’RE one of the “et al”, aren’t you?

    I forgot.

  6. nyp says:

    Yes, I am indeed one of the “et al” — but for one small difference: they are all elected to office by We the People. If you do not like the government’s policies, vote them out of office.

    That is why analogies to pre-revolutionary America are so absurd.

  7. Steve says:

    Where on the ballot do I place my check mark that to end the BLM?

  8. Steve says:

    I never saw Neil Kornze name on any ballot.

  9. nyp says:

    The way it works, Steve is that you vote for representatives who will pass laws that you favor, If you want to abolish the Bureau of Land Management, you should vote for people who have pledged to do just that.

  10. Steve says:

    I used to vote for Harry Reid. He was for abolishing all kinds of things. He was lying to me.

    Now I want the vote made available for all heads of all agencies.

  11. nyp says:

    Sure. I would like to vote for all the Commissioners of the SEC. And have an election for all the members of the Federal Aviation Administration. And the National Transportation Safety Administration. And the head of the Medicare Trust Fund. And the FBI. And the Center for Disease Control. And ….

  12. Steve says:

    You just added to the reasons do it.
    Thanks, Nyp!
    At the least the voting public would REALLY know just how much the feds have overreached.

  13. Athos says:

    If we’d really like to wake the people up, let’s discontinue payroll deductions and have everyone pay quarterly taxes!

    Whoop! There it is!

  14. Vernon Clayson says:

    Before we think about electing leaders for federal agencies we should remember and consider the dreadful/horrible choices voters have made electing senators and representatives. I dislike responding to nyp’s comments but what exactly is the Medicare Trust Fund? I think it was fanciful from early on to use the words “trust”, it’s difficult to use any definition of the word in this program. There’s no funds in trust and who knows if they even bother to put IOUs in files any more,

  15. Steve says:

    Off topic. But always of interest. The ever worsening effects of ☹bama☭are.
    From ABC News we bring you the predicted and much denied by libby’s everywhere

    ▀▀█▀▀ ░█─░█ ▀█▀ ░█▄─░█
    ─░█── ░█▀▀█ ░█─ ░█░█░█
    ─░█── ░█─░█ ▄█▄ ░█──▀█

    ░█▄─░█ ░█▀▀▀ ▀▀█▀▀ ░█──░█ ░█▀▀▀█ ░█▀▀█ ░█─▄▀ ░█▀▀▀█ █
    ░█░█░█ ░█▀▀▀ ─░█── ░█░█░█ ░█──░█ ░█▄▄▀ ░█▀▄─ ─▀▀▀▄▄ ▀
    ░█──▀█ ░█▄▄▄ ─░█── ░█▄▀▄█ ░█▄▄▄█ ░█─░█ ░█─░█ ░█▄▄▄█ ▄

    People who happily signed up can’t keep their doctor….not so happy now!

  16. Winston Smith says:

    Come now, petey, you know that 90+% of the edicts from federal agencies are not actually law, and we, therefore, have no representation in their creation. These agencies create their regulations with virtually no public input, because they can. Only if enough people yell loud enough will an edict ever be questioned and perhaps rescinded. Federal agencies essentially form the Regulatory Branch, barely beholden to those that supposedly created and administer it, and certainly not beholden to those paying the bills.

    But then again, you knew all that…

    War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength

  17. nyp says:

    Steve: the article you cite states that when presented with a choice, consumers generally prefer to purchase health insurance that is less expensive but offers a narrower range of hospitals and doctors, rather than purchase insurance that is more expensive but offers a wider range of hospitals and doctors. The woman in California cited in the first paragraph was already covered under her husband’s plan, but decided to purchase a cheaper “gold” plan with few deductables under Covered California. She could keep the doctor she was seeing under her husband’s plan, but she decided to pay less. Similarly, the people who previously had no health insurance at all (or who were on Medicaird) who are cited at the end of the story, now have decent insurance for their family, even though they have to stay in network.

    Those are good things. “Narrow networks” have been part of conservative proposals for healthcare reform for decades. They force doctors and hospitals to be price competitive, while holding down premium and deductible costs. If giving people a choice between cheap plans with narrower networks and more expensive plans with wider networks is the worst thing to come out of healthcare reform, I would say that is pretty good.

  18. Steve says:

    “It’s not fun when you’ve had a doctor for years and years that you can confide in and he knows you,” Pool said. “I’m extremely discouraged. I’m stuck.”

    “Before the law took effect, experts warned that narrow networks could impact patient’s access to care, especially in cheaper plans. But with insurance cards now in hand, consumers are finding their a̲c̲c̲e̲s̲s̲ ̲l̲i̲m̲i̲t̲e̲d̲ ̲a̲c̲r̲o̲s̲s̲ ̲a̲l̲l̲ ̲p̲r̲i̲c̲e̲ ̲r̲a̲n̲g̲e̲s̲.”

    “The dilemma undercuts President Obama’s 2009 pledge that: “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period.” Consumer frustration over losing doctors comes as the Obama administration is still celebrating a victory with more than 8 million enrollees in its first year.”

    Marie Bien-Aime, a 59-year-old cook at a Miami restaurant, enrolled in that plan to avoid a monthly payment, but she realized her longtime health clinic didn’t take the plan. Shortly before the enrollment deadline, Bien-Aime upgraded to a plan that costs $37 per month.
    “Paying $37 isn’t good for me, but I had to do it because I wanted to keep my doctor because he’s so good,” said Bien-Aime, who was previously uninsured.

    Many consumers are still learning. They hear “Obamacare” and think it’s free like Medicaid or Medicare, said John Foley, an attorney and navigator.
    “They don’t expect to pay anything,” said Foley. “For a couple more dollars a month you can get a really good plan and they’re like, ‘This is free. I don’t want to pay for this.'”

    When Potts got a nasty cold, he called three facilities near his home in Wichita Falls, Texas, and was shocked to find none took the insurance, including his primary care doctor.
    “It was a waste of money for me,” he said. “I couldn’t find doctors that would talk to me.”

    Well lets just tell them all Nyp says don’t worry, everything is hunky-dory.

  19. nyp says:

    yup. there is no free lunch. You can get people good quality health insurance that they can finally afford, but you can’t guarantee that that their insurance will pay for every single doctor or hospital that they might wish to use. I am perfectly fine with that. If the woman in the article wants to use the doctor connected to her previous plan, she is free to stay with her previous plan. She choose to sign up with an individual plan that saves her a lot of money, in part because it forces providers to compete on price,
    That is precisely how the system should work. It is the conservative approach to healthcare reform.

  20. Steve says:

    good quality health insurance with a̲c̲c̲e̲s̲s̲ ̲l̲i̲m̲i̲t̲e̲d̲ ̲a̲c̲r̲o̲s̲s̲ ̲a̲l̲l̲ ̲p̲r̲i̲c̲e̲ ̲r̲a̲n̲g̲e̲s̲.


  21. Steve says:

    “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period.” President ☹bama

    “You can get people good quality health insurance that they can finally afford, but you can’t guarantee that that their insurance will pay for every single doctor or hospital that they might wish to use. I am perfectly fine with that.” nyp

    You are “perfectly fine” with the lie your guy made.

  22. nyp says:

    you can keep your doctor. But you can’t switch to a cheaper, better plan and be guaranteed that the plan will include your current doctor.
    That is perfectly fine with me.

  23. nyp says:

    But step back a minute, Steve, and think about how the terms of debate have changed. We aren’t talking about death panels anymore. Nor how government bureaucrats are going to interfere with your colinoscopy. Nor how the exchanges will never, ever function properly. Nor how hackers will steal all of your financial and medical data. Nor how we are about to enter an actuarial death spiral. Nor how the enrollment figures are fraudulent because no one is paying premiums once they have enrolled.

    No, now we are reduced to an arid discussion of whether “narrow networks” are a good or bad thing, and whether premiums are going up faster or more slowly than in past years.

    I am very pleased that all the hysteria about how ObamaCare wll destroy the US economy appears to be fading away and we are reduced to granular discussions of the finer points of health insurance financial modeling.

  24. Steve says:

    Glad you are happy they are delaying or extending much of the law, Nyp.

    Unleash it and lets see what happens.

  25. Nyp says:

    It is unleashed. Millions of Americans now have health insurance for their families. It is a great step forward for our country.

  26. Steve says:

    Nice to see nyp calling for enacting the small business mandate immediately…unleash that law now!

  27. Winston Smith says:

    Referring to my post above, it’s always nice to see a lawyer, especially a U.S. Senator, agree with you, and say it much better:

    Sometimes I wish I had gone into the law instead of I.T. Of course, Lee acts as if this federal tyranny was accidental, whereas, as a confirmed conspiratorialist, I know it has been done by design. Actually, I suspect he does too.

    War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength

  28. […] agreement was reached after a widespread and well-publicized protest to the BLM’s arbitrary and livelihood-threatening […]

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