Perhaps you’ve heard by now how Harry Reid is holding 800 Yerington area jobs hostage so he can placate his environmentalist buddies who would like to wipe every trace of human habitation off the face of the planet.
Rep. Mark Amodei managed to get a bill through the House that would allow Yerington to buy 10,000 acres of BLM land at market value to facilitate development of the Pumpkin Hollow copper mine, but Harry is holding it up in the Senate because he wants to hang a wilderness ornament on the tree.
Harry Reid wants 80,000 acres of wilderness designation in exchange for bill to allow Yerington to buy land and create jobs.
I mentioned it in August and Sherman Frederick mentioned it Sunday in his column in the Review-Journal, but it’s not been widely reported.
“It is not a lot of wilderness area but it is something that is important,” Reid was quoted as saying by the Reno Gazette-Journal. “They cannot think they are going to get this thing and do nothing for the environment.”
It apparently turns out that “not a lot of wilderness area” to Harry is 125 square miles, about the size of the entire city of Las Vegas or about 6 percent of all of Lyon County.
According to an article in the Mason Valley News — “The Only Newspaper In The World That Gives A Damn About Yerington,” but not enough to use its name for its flag — Harry recently suggested (though it is not stated where or to whom) 80,000 acres of what has been called the “Wovoka” area, which the paper says is on the south and east side of the Pine Grove mountain range, should be designated as wilderness as a part of the Yerington bill.
The area seems to be appropriately named for the Northern Paiute who in 1889 claimed God had shown him the Ghost Dance, which would remove all the white people and return the land to the Paiutes. The Ghost Dance soon spread from Mason Valley to Paiutes in Oregon, California and Utah, as well as to the Shoshone, Utes, Cheyenne, Arapaho and Lakota.
The land in question is doubtlessly already under the control of the BLM or one the federal bureaucracies that control 85 percent of Nevada and its use is subject to rules, regulations and whims of federal agents. But wilderness designation would make the land off-limits for the average Nevadan.
The Wilderness Act of 1964 defines a wilderness area as one “where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man … retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions … has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation …”
No vehicles, no roads, no trails, no outhouses, no park benches, no trash cans, no power tools, no bicycles, no cutting firewood. Hunting is allowed in season under state law, but if you bag anything bigger than a squirrel be prepared to haul it out on your back.
The Mason Valley paper quoted Amodei as saying, “I don’t know how you can hold up (the bill) when it is ready to move on its own merits.” He said any wilderness bill should be separate, backed by the local community and “stand on its own merits.”
But give Harry a place to stand in the Senate with a lever as long as the Senate calendar and a fulcrum of job-desperate Lyon County residents, where the unemployment rate is 15 percent, he can move (or block) mountains of legislation. With no apologies to Archimedes.
Or maybe its just Harry’s version of the Ghost Dance.