They say it's not a new Sagebrush Rebellion, but maybe something even bigger that drew about 40 conservative Republicans to a private meeting Friday to talk about the future of the West.
The two-day meeting, which continued Saturday, was held under the banner of the Western States Caucus. Reporters were excluded.The Sagebrush Rebellion movement of a decade ago sought more state control over federal lands used by ranchers and miners and the like. Last week, the leader of that earlier effort, Dean Rhoads, said the meeting here was intended to revive the movement.
But Al Ouellette, interim chairman of the caucus, said after the meeting it was more than that.
"Contrary to various media reports, this caucus is not a stalking-horse for a rekindling of the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion," Ouellette said. "Its focus is far broader."
Ouellette, formerly of Colorado and now a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., declined to disclose details of the meeting agenda. As for the group, he said, "Specifically, we are concerned with the socioeconomic and political impact, the formulation of water, public land, environmental and energy policies promulgated and implemented from the faraway banks of the Potomac River" in the nation's capital.
Organizers say they planned to gather at least 50 ranchers, miners, loggers and officials from local government for a meeting here to develop a strategy for fighting the Bush administration and conservationists.