As Written By Molly Hennessy-Fiske for the LA Times:
Gerald “Jerry” Smith grew up in Nevada and went to work for the Bureau of Land Management right after college. As a local, he figured he was uniquely suited to work with the ranchers who have long resented the federal government’s role in land management here.
It didn’t quite work out that way.
Now retired from a job as district manager for the BLM, Smith knows all about the tensions that have long defined relations between ranchers in the rural West and the federal government, which manages much of the region’s land. Those tensions have boiled over in recent days at a wildlife refuge in Oregon and are at a perpetual simmer here.
Now it is Smith’s successor as district manager, Doug Furtado, who has become the enemy for many people in the region.
Although there have been no violence or threats here, the risk is real. Federal employees in Nevada have been attacked in the past over land-use disputes — shot at, their offices and cars bombed.
“We got to live in this community,” said Smith, who supervised, trained and still hunts with Furtado in this community where many carry concealed handguns. “All these issues, none of them are worth dying over. I worry about that — so does Doug.”
Just off the interstate leading into this northern Nevada town …..