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The Sagebrush Rebellion of the late 1970s and early 1980s was a backlash against federal land policies in the West. The culmination of decades of westerners’ frustration over their inability to determine the best use of the land that surrounded them, the rebellion faded away when the Reagan administration developed policies that diminished federal power and marginalized environmental concerns.
The Sagebrush Rebellion, named for the aridity and low production of the lands in question, officially began in 1979 when the Nevada legislature passed laws asserting state control over public lands. In Nevada at the time, about 79 percent of the state consisted of lands under the control of the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM). About 93 percent of total federal lands and 99 percent of ...