ELKO, Nev. (AP) - Elko County Commissioner Grant Gerber, a longtime lawyer and conservative political activist, has died from injuries he suffered three weeks ago when he fell off a horse in Kansas while protesting a federal crackdown on livestock grazing. He was 72.
Described by his allies as a freedom fighter, Gerber was surrounded by family and listening to his favorite songs when he died late Saturday at a Salt Lake City hospital, his son, Travis Gerber said.
Grant Gerber grew up roping horses in Elko County before he entered the U.S. Army. He was awarded the bronze star for his service in Vietnam and rose to the rank of captain of a Special Forces mountain climbing and ski team, his son said.
“Grant Gerber was a true patriot,” Nevada Assemblyman John Ellison told the Elko Daily Free Press (https://tinyurl.com/oloz7p3)
“Elko County lost one hell of a freedom fighter, a torchbearer for freedom,” added county Commission Chairman Charlie Myers.
Over the past two decades, Gerber was at the forefront of the fight for private property and states’ rights, beginning in the 1990s with a battle with the U.S. Forest Service over protection of the threatened bull trout and access to a national forest road near the Nevada-Idaho line.
Ex-Assemblyman John Carpenter helped him organize the “Shovel Brigade” that defied the Forest Service, using shovels and picks to reopen the road to Jarbidge by hand on July 4, 2000. He said that will be part of Gerber’s legacy.
“The road’s open and it’s going to stay open, no question about that,” Carpenter said Sunday.
In recent years, Gerber focused on ranchers’ rights, opposing the listing of the sage grouse as a threatened species and promoting a “Smoked Bear” advertising campaign that argued federal cutbacks on grazing were fueling wildfire threats at the expense of deer and other wildlife on public lands.
Gerber was leading the “Grass March/Cowboy Express” horseback ride from California to Washington, D.C., when his horse stumbled on a prairie dog hole in Kansas and he was knocked unconscious, Travis Gerber said. He said his father was examined and released from a hospital in St. Louis, and completed the journey to the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 16.
He was on his way home last week when he complained of nagging headaches and checked into a hospital in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Doctors discovered internal bleeding, and he was transferred to a hospital in Salt Lake City where he had surgery on Thursday.
“He was an exceptional man,” he said, “but we know his spirit lives on.”
Information from: Elko Daily Free Press, https://www.elkodaily.com
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