ELKO – Those who love swinging music, good vibes, and who support ranchers battling with the federal government over land and water rights should mark their calendars for Thursday night.
Cowboy poet veteran Waddie Mitchell is hosting a Grass March/Cowboy Express benefit concert that will feature performances from the all-star lineup of Michael Martin Murphy, Don Edwards, RW Hampton, Brenn Hill and Andy Hedges.
There is no cover charge but organizers will accept donations. A live auction will take place, Mitchell said, where attendees can bid on a host of items, such as beef and horse tack.
The event begins around 8 or 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the Stockmen’s Hotel & Casino showroom.
“We’re hoping to raise as much as possible,” Mitchell said. “We were about $40,000 in the hole.”
Those looking for a place to mingle will also find it at the concert.
“We’ll have cocktails available in there,” he said. “A bar will be open. They can expect just good visiting and lots of good stuff to get out of the raffle.”
The Grass March/Cowboy Express began near the end of September in California. Riders took to horseback and embarked on a coast-to-coast ride in an attempt to gain support from like-minded Americans.
The Capitol in Washington, D.C., was the final stop.
The movement began in response to the Battle Mountain Bureau of Land Management’s decision to close grazing on portions of the Argenta allotment due to drought. However, as it gained traction, other land disputes also propelled the riders.
During the Grass March, Mitchell performed in Salt Lake City.
“A lot of support came out,” he said, “a lot of people that weren’t involved in cattle ranching. I was surprised to see how many people were just hikers and enthusiasts, hunters, RV people. There were people there that were just fishermen, and campers that have all had horrible experiences with the governmental agencies and felt like they were being bullied.”
Grant Gerber, an Elko County Commissioner who spurred the movement and participated in the journey, died on his return. He fell with a horse in the Midwest and suffered a head injury. After completing the ride, he died in a Salt Lake City hospital.
BLM state director Amy Lueders said in an interview with the Elko Daily Free Press last year that the agency was required to make decisions based on a wide range of interests and concerns, which will never satisfy the entire populous.
She said she understood that some people considered the BLM to be overreaching, but she disagreed with the conclusion.
She also contested the suggestion that Battle Mountain District Manager Doug Furtado – whose job Gerber and others were calling for – unilaterally made a decision to close off areas to grazing, as characterized by ranch supporters.