RENO, Nev. (AP) — One of the nation's longest-running court battles over local property rights and ownership of national forest roads may have finally come to an end in Nevada to the delight of environmentalists.

A federal judge in Reno ruled against rural Elko County this week and closed the 18-year-old case surrounding a sometimes volatile feud over the road in remote wilderness near the Idaho line.

The case began in 1999 when the Clinton administration filed suit against then-Nevada Assemblyman John Carpenter. Carpenter, who since has died, was one of the leaders of a "Shovel Brigade" that vowed to rebuild a washed out road near threatened fish habitat in defiance of the government.

Earthjustice lawyer Michael Freeman says it took nearly two decades but it was important to establish the road belongs to the American public. The county still could appeal.


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