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“I think we can all agree that the vast majority act in a professional and courteous manner,” said Mr. Grijalva. “Unfortunately, like any company, organization or government, there will be instances where employees do not live up to that standard, and they must be held accountable.”

But Elko County Commissioner Grant Gerber said the problem is bigger than just a few bad actors. When he was growing up in Nevada, federal managers were “friendly, they came to the ranch, we worked with them, but over the years that’s changed.”

“They’re predominantly from outside the area and do not develop connections with the locals,” said Mr. Gerber. “Many start out with a belligerent attitude, even a commanding presence. They’re especially offended if anyone opposes any federal government actions.”

Garfield County Commissioner Leland Pollock of Utah insisted that the depiction of rural Americans as anti-government renegades is incorrect.

“Some of you folks back here may think that we’re anti-government, and that’s just not the case,” said Mr. Pollock. “We’re reaching out today as well as we will back in Utah to try to forge relationships, to try to work through these issues.”