by Steve Miller
copyright (c) 1997, Electric Nevada
|The father of the U.S. Forest Service, though long dead, spoke out last month on the side of Nevada ranchers -- and against the agency he helped found.|
| Within hours, Forest Service
attorneys announced they were dropping federal objections
to 19 rancher claims of vested stockwatering rights.
In a hearing room drama sure to reverberate across the American West for years to come, Forest Service hydrologist Richard Jameson, on the stand, was required to read aloud assurances given ranchers 90 years ago by Gifford Pinchot, first chief forester of the United States.
"The creation of a National
The small, maroon-red, booklet -- published the same year as Nevada's Toiyabe National Forest was formed -- explained to ranchers, miners, loggers and others on the Western lands how the newly established national forests were to work.
Pinchot's promises, in
recent decades Forest Service officials in Nevada and
Washington, D. C. have taken a very different line,
claiming on various legal grounds that their agency, as
representive of the U.S. government, is entitled to all
water rights on any land now administered by the federal
Forest Service grazing
rights practices break other promises Pinchot had made to
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