Longtime Nevada environmental activist Garrett dies at 88

RENO — Longtime Nevada environmental activist Jo Anne Garrett of Baker has been found dead after being missing for four days. She was 88.

Searchers found Garrett’s body Monday in a wooded area near her home at the main entrance to Great Basin National Park, near the Utah line, said Bob Fulkerson, state director of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada.

She was reported missing Oct. 11, a day after she went for a walk.

Her body was taken to the Clark County coroner’s office for an autopsy to pinpoint the cause of death. White Pine County sheriff’s officials could not immediately be reached Friday. However, Garrett’s friend Abigail Johnson said foul play is not suspected.

“It appears that she got lost and/or disorientated,” former White Pine County Commissioner Gary Perea wrote in an email to fellow Garrett friends.

Garrett was a board member of the Nevada environmental group Citizen Alert and one of the original opponents of the federal government’s MX missile system that was once proposed to cover much of eastern Nevada. She later helped lead fights against the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site in Southern Nevada and Las Vegas’ plan to import water from rural Nevada.

In June, Garrett watched from the courtroom in Ely as a judge heard an appeal of the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s multibillion-dollar scheme to tap groundwater in rural Clark, Lincoln and White Pine counties, including her beloved Snake Valley.

She and her husband settled there before Great Basin National Park was founded in 1986, building their house from Snake Mountain stone and timber from the old Nevada Northern Railroad. She woke each morning to sweeping views of sky, trees and snow-covered mountains.

“It’s hard to justify all this open space, but taking care of it in this day and age sure seems important,” she told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2006. “It’s a great privilege to get to live out here.”

Fulkerson issued a statement Friday saying her death “is like the fall of a talking bristlecone,” a reference to the ancient trees that grow high in the mountains behind her home.

“She’s one of the few who dedicated her life to Nevada — and not just by leading the fights against the MX, the water grab and other violent threats against the land and water here. But by enjoying every moment of every sunrise over Mount Washington and each sunset over Notch Peak,” he said.

Her home served as the “gathering place for all rural/urban resistance” to various anti-environmental proposals, Fulkerson added.

Garrett is survived by two daughters, Carolyn Garrett of Baker and DiAnn Martin of Ely, and five grandchildren. Two sons preceded her in death.

A celebration of life is scheduled for Oct. 26 in Baker.

Review-Journal writer Henry Brean contributed to this report.