Rancher Hage v. the United States: Can’t drive a stake through its heart

Welcome to the zombie apocalypse, where the war against the living dead never ends.

On June 6, 2008, a federal judge in the case of the Estate of Hage v. the U.S. awarded the estate of Nye County rancher Wayne Hage $4.2 million in damages plus interest, attorney fees and costs in compensation for the federal government’s Fifth Amendment “taking” of grazing and water rights. Hage had died two years earlier almost to the day.

Wayne Hage

On June 5, 2012, federal Judge Robert Jones in Reno in the case of the U.S. v. the Estate of Hage began civil contempt proceedings against Thomas Seley, the field manager of the Tonopah office of the Bureau of Land Management.

The battle began in 1979 and wages on and on and on.

Jones stated from the bench that Seley, who became head of his office in 2007, “undertook a pattern to obtain his own remedy in derogation of this Court’s jurisdiction over these issues, and that’s the contempt.” The judge accused Seley of trying to interfere with water and grazing rights, as well as filing trespass notices despite the matter being in the jurisdiction of the court.

The 2008 Hage v. U.S. ruling included this strongly worded conclusion:

“The taking clause was not written to protect merely against frivolous exercises of governmental power, but more precisely to protect against the opposite. Presumably, the political process protects against most frivolous exercises. The protection of the Fifth Amendment is most needed to protect the minority against the exercise of governmental power when the need of government to regulate is greatest, and the desire of the popular majority is strongest. In this way, and in this way only, does the judiciary properly affect policy, and that effect is to adjudicate the limits that the rule of law and a written Constitution impose upon popular government. The existence of property rights, not the judiciary’s finding of a ‘taking,’ impose these limits.”

But the government is a deathless beast that can carry its fight on for generations until it has vanquished or outlived mere mortal citizens.

According to a Nevada Journal article, the fight began in 1979 when Hage ran into federal agents on his grazing allotment who were surveying the area so the Forest Service could file a water rights claim. Hage’s ranch had held those waters since 1865, before the Forest Service was created.

The government later claimed Hage was overgrazing the land and canceled his grazing and water rights permits for five years.

According to court records, in 1983 Hage received 40 letters from the Forest Service charging various violations and agents of the Forest Service visited the ranch 70 times. The Forest Service then filed 22 charges against Hage, many for extremely minor infractions. “In addition, the Forest Service insisted that Plaintiffs maintain their 1866 Act ditches with nothing other than hand tools.” (Welcome to Tombstone.)

In 1991, the Forest Service twice impounded Hage’s cattle. When he could not get them back by paying the cost of impoundment, the government auctioned the cattle for $39,000 and kept the proceeds.

Hage filed his federal “takings” suit in the fall of 1991 — 21 years later …

_ _ _

The description of the Hage range war with the feds in this court ruling is harrowing: Hage2008

Read Judge Jone’s statement from the bench about the potential for civil contempt against a federal agent: Hage2012

55 comments on “Rancher Hage v. the United States: Can’t drive a stake through its heart

  1. Bruce Feher says:

    Beyond amazing that stuff like this happens in a “free” country.

  2. I wish it were beyond amazing. It is entirely too frequent. Just ask the people of Tombstone and the Sacketts of Idaho.

    ________________________________

  3. Steve says:

    Thanks for this Tom, we city people don’t usually see this as rural situations are easily hidden from view. But I think the Pappas family would understand.

  4. And so would Victor Fuentes, owner of the flooded church camp near Pahrump, and so would Cliven Bundy, the Bunkerville rancher.

  5. nyp10025 says:

    wait – these guys are claiming that they have a private property right in public lands? Is that what this is about?

  6. Steve says:

    Nyp,,,, ah,,,, no,,,, not at all the case. You couldn’t get further into “left” field if you tried.

  7. I believe that is what the judge said. The water rights alone were placed at $2.8 million.

    ________________________________

  8. Steve says:

    In the Fuentes and Pappas cases it is and was private land. Hage and Bundy are public land use agreements. All these cases have something in common. Government attempting to gin up reasons to push people off lands and out of agreements. All because they think they have the power and these rurals don’t deserve what they worked so hard to get and maintain.

    Sadly its been shown they do have that power.

  9. nyp10025 says:

    So the Hague case does involve a dispute over land owned by the People of the United States? How is this a “taking of private property”?

  10. Steve says:

    Not the Hague. Hage. A rancher.

    Its about standing by agreements for public lands use and constitutional rights of private land ownership. The government is reneging on agreements more than a century old in the Hage case and flat taking private lands from private owners like the Fuentes by making that land unuseable on purpose. Intersting the government is using water in both of these cases to take what they want with no compensation for the rightful owners.

    Dirty dealing by powerful minions.

  11. nyp10025 says:

    So the Hage case is about public lands? How is that a Fifth Amendment issue? And if it isn’t really a Fifth Amendment case, isn’t it just a garden-variety contract dispute between two property owners?

  12. Steve says:

    The Hage case is about water rights owned for more than a century. Water rights is a form of land.

  13. Read the ruling, Petey. I’ve already cited the law.

    ________________________________

  14. $4 million is a row or two bigger than my garden.

    ________________________________

  15. nyp10025 says:

    but who “owned” the “water rights”? As far as I can tell, this fellow claimed that because he had used water owned by the people of the United States for a very long time, he had the right to treat it as his own property. As I understand it, most of that claim was thrown out of court in 2008. 82 Fed. Cl. 202 (2008) Some claims remained, on the novel theory that not permitting Hage’s cattle to use streams on public land was somehow a “taking.” It also held that vegetation growing along the streams on public land reduced the water flowing into Hage’s private water ditches.

    I’m sure it will all be worked out in the appellate process. But forgive me for not seeing this as as a sequel to “Darkness at Noon.”

  16. Steve says:

    Darkness at Noon? I should hope not nyp. Not in this country.

    You know there is such a thing as being grandfathered. The mid 1800’s were a wild time full of things no one would accept today. Thing is the Hage family was there first and maintained their use of that land from the beginning. There is something to say a about a claim older than the agency trying to snatch it away from the claimant.

    But nyp being a city dweller will not understand or accept it. So once asked for forgiveness I say OK, I forgive nyp’s lack of ability to understand what the truth is in this case.

    Thank goodness the 9th circuit gets overturned so often. In fact they are number 1 and they have been for a long time. Makes me so proud. Of the Supreme Court, not the 9th.

    http://articles.latimes.com/2007/jul/11/opinion/oe-fitzpatrick11
    http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jul/18/local/la-me-ninth-circuit-scorecard-20110718

  17. nyp10025 says:

    The case is not being heard in the Ninth Circuit, and will not be appealed to the Ninth Circuit, so the premise of your last comment is false.

  18. Steve says:

    Yep but I just love pointing that out whenever I can and I can here because we are also looking at the Fuentes case as a corallary.

  19. Why do you say it will not be appealed to 9th circ?

    ________________________________

  20. You are not forgiven to seeing the significance of the case.

    ________________________________

  21. nyp10025 says:

    Because it is not in a 9th Circuit Court. It is in the Court of Federal Claims, and will be appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

  22. Athos says:

    So much of this is puzzling, isn’t it? Was Seley, as head of the area BLM (federal agency, part of the Department of the Interior) acting on his own, or following the directives of the Department of the Interior?

    Is there some sort of ideology at play here? Seley doesn’t get the money, nor does Seley pay Hage for future damages. The taxpayers do, right? Government is only the muscle used to take from one and give to another. And this spans Salazar’s reign at Interior AND Gale Norton (didn’t SHE make out like a bandit, going to work for Shell Oil!) and Dirk Kempthorne.

    Maybe the ideology doesn’t come from just one party (R or D). Maybe it’s the seductive nature of power?

    And speaking of temptation and corruption, here’s a little 7 minute video for ya!

  23. Steve says:

    Isn’t it neat? All the courts (no matter the jurisdiction) have to do is look at what the 9th does and do the opposite! That will get it right 80% of the time.

  24. Athos says:

    On a lighter note, here’s another quick video:

    http://www.snotr.com/video/8965/

  25. Steve says:

    Yeah and would someone tell Ballmer that turning my PC into a giant phone is a bad idea?

  26. nyp10025 says:

    You know what? I may be wrong about the Ninth Circuit. Some of this case seems to be in the federal court of claims, and some of it in the Nevada federal courts.

  27. nyp10025 says:

    Hey – remember when it was an absolute outrage that the Obama Administration would even consider that there might be one or two constitutional problems with the new Arizona immigration law? Gosh, that seems like such a long time ago.

  28. Steve says:

    I looked at that AZ law as they threw a bunch of stuff at the wall hoping some of it would stick. I think they got what they were looking for too. Some way to make estimates on how many illegals are living in the state. A good exorcize in constitutionality of state immigration laws and the foot is in the door but its becoming moot with the economy.

    http://www.lvrj.com/news/like-many-others-mexican-national-leaving-las-vegas-160212385.html

    The private sector economy is doing what? Oh, yeah, chasing Mexicans back south of the border like it did in the 1930’s. Doesn’t sound like “fine” to me. In context or out of context in no way does “fine” describe it.

  29. nyp10025 says:

    So perhaps it was not such an outrage for the Obama Administration to challenge the law, given that, according to “steve,” it was passed without much concern for its constitutionality.
    By the way – I wonder if Romney still believes that the Arizona immigration law is a “model for the nation.” Or has he gone Etch-a-Sketch on that one?

  30. Steve says:

    What can a police department do with drivers license and registration info? Lots, that’s what. Imagine the amount of forged documents they could find. The residences they could start watching and tying to criminal activity. The possibilities are wide and far ranging with information like that. Yeah AZ got the biggest of what they were looking to get and it chased a bunch out already on just its passage alone. This certainly won’t invite them back.

  31. Steve says:

    I was once told by a traffic cop I should always fight tickets, even as he wrote the ticket.

    I was not against the WH going to the courts for this.
    I am very concerned about all the election year decrees skirting the process though. Check it out even liberal Steve Sebelius is having troubles with it.
    http://slashpolitics.reviewjournal.com/2012/06/24/a-nation-of-laws-not-of-men/

  32. nyp10025 says:

    Today’s decision explains why the recent administration ruling on Dream Act children is perfectly legal:
    “Congress has specified which aliens may be removed from the United States and the procedures for doing so. Aliens may be removed if they were inadmissible at the time of entry, have been convicted of certain crimes, or meet other criteria set by federal law. See §1227. Removal is a civil, not criminal, matter. A principal feature of the removal system is the broad discretion exercised by immigration officials. …Discretion in the enforcement of immigration law embraces immediate human concerns. Unauthorized workers trying to support their families, for example, likely pose less danger than alien smugglers or aliens who commit a serious crime. The equities of an individual case may turn on many factors, including whether the alien has children born in the United States, long ties to the community, or a record of distinguished military service.”

  33. Athos, that was funny and timely. I showed it to my daughter as she disconnected her new Kindle from charging on my computer’s USB port.

    ________________________________

  34. nyp10025 says:

    It is pretty funny that Governor Brewer thinks this decision was a “victory.”

  35. James Lamb says:

    I had a chance to sit and talk with Wayne once up in Belmont, NV. near his ranch A real nice guy and very sharp.

  36. Hage was well versed.

    ________________________________

  37. For what it is worth, I never though much of the warrantless search aspect, but the part about asking about citizenship was a key provision that Brewer can claim as a victory.

    I thought the part about making illegal for an illegal to hold a job might stand, but apparently not.

    ________________________________

  38. Steve says:

    Apparently this guy thinks AZ won too. From the same article.

    Puente Arizona director Carlos Garcia said President Barack Obama can put an end to this by having federal immigration officers cease working with local police.

  39. Steve says:

    Yep its a win for AZ.

    Another immigrant group is not happy and plans to go to court over the “papers please” portion of the law.
    http://my.earthlink.net/article/us?guid=20120625/8faff6c2-9457-4fb6-bbe9-29e8cfb5b361

  40. nyp10025 says:

    Yes – paradoxically, it serves the political interests of both sides to portray this as a victory for the immigration restrictionists.
    Anyone who understands how to read a Supreme Court opinion knows better.

  41. Steve says:

    Carefull, even the top minds who should know how to read decisions are usually not in agreement.

    Hell, even the Justices usually split on things, just like they did on the immigration law.

    Make no mistake this is foot in the door, AZ one a big one but the war rages on.

  42. Steve says:

    nyp??? Romney said what?

    “By the way – I wonder if Romney still believes that the Arizona immigration law is a “model for the nation.” Or has he gone Etch-a-Sketch on that one?”

    See Politifact. Romney was supporting E-Verify and an AZ law from 07 requiring all state employers use and was upheld by the US Supreme court.

    http://www.politifact.com/texas/statements/2012/apr/11/charlie-gonzalez/us-rep-charlie-gonzalez-says-arizona-mitt-romney-s/

  43. nyp10025 says:

    I stand corrected. All Romney said about the Arizona law at that debate was that he would immediately drop the Obama Administration lawsuit that just substantially succeeded at the Supreme Court.
    But can anyone figure out whether he supports (or supported) the actual Arizona law? And does he think the Supreme Court made the wrong ruling today?

  44. Steve says:

    I like that take on it “substantially succeeded” that works for both sides. 😉

    They are copying each other Obama and Romney. Both waffling on this one.

    My opinion based on the news so far. It will take a day or so for both campaigns to get their talking points in order.

    But that also won’t answer you question… or will it….

  45. jolynlaubacher says:

    Great post! I’m writing an article covering the updates in this case for the Nevada Rancher magazine. This is a huge victory for American ranchers, and needs all the publicity it can get. From the looks of the comments, it looks like a whole other blog post (or large book??) could be written explaining the ins and outs of water rights, public lands grazing rights, and private property laws for the city slickers. Again, great work and thanks for this well-informed blog.

  46. Thank you very much (Jolyn?), I can’t wait to see how this turns out.

    Are you writing for C.J. Hadley’s magazine?

  47. jolynlaubacher says:

    Thomas – I’m a staff writer for the Nevada Rancher, an independent magazine, but I have freelanced for C.J. Hadley’s RANGE in the past. I bet she’ll be covering the new events to some degree!

    -Jolyn

  48. Margene says:

    From reading your comments about the Hage case, I think you may be interested in this article written by Wayne Hage: What, Exactly, Are Public Lands?
    (Note: If you read just one property rights article this year, this should be the
    one. Through a thoughtful read, the words and knowledge of Wayne Hage
    will enhance your understanding of property rights and its associated
    definitions and case law. If one has property to which they have rights and
    claims – i.e., such as range rights, including, but not limited to, water,
    forage, ditch rights, roads and access — their property is, by definition, not
    public lands. The U.S. Supreme Court defined public lands in Bardon v
    Northern Pac. R. Co. 12 S.C. 536, 539 (1892), cited 133 times and never
    overturned in whole or in part. It was last cited in Watt v Western Nuclear,
    Inc., 462 U.S. 36 (1983). The U.S. Supreme Court said: “It is well settled
    that all land to which any claims or rights of others have attached does not
    fall within the designation of public land.” Bardon v Northern Pac. R. Co. 12
    S.C. 536, 539 (1892). The question must now be asked, by definition as
    above, are the grazing lands referred to in the new Bureau of Land
    Management [BLM] grazing regulations http://www.blm.gov/grazing/final/
    really public lands, or do they have rights and claims of others attached? If
    the rights and claims of others are attached, the regulations do not apply,
    because the grazing lands are not public lands. The government has been
    able to claim more and more authority over landowners by mere assertion.
    Government has simply defined most western ranchers out of the question
    by saying grazing allotments are public lands. This is the crux of what
    Wayne Hage sought to teach people in the west in his last years. It is hard
    for folks to believe, because they don’t want to believe that the government
    would seek to deceive them. The fact is that government is guilty of deceit
    by definition. We must get to the point of understanding before we can
    effectively protect and defend private property rights.)
    The Denotative and Connotative Definitions Of the Phrase “Public lands”
    June 2003
    By E. Wayne Hage
    Pine Creek Ranch
    Tonopah, Nevada
    Over the past half century, no term or phrase has caused more confusion in
    the western land debate than the term “public lands”. On the one hand, the
    rancher is told by the Bureau of Land Management or U.S. Forest Service
    that these lands are “public lands” and he owns no property rights in his
    grazing land and only has a conditional privilege to graze by virtue of his
    grazing permit issued by the agency. On the other hand, if the rancher dies,
    his heirs must pay an inheritance tax on what the Internal Revenue Service
    says are his property rights in his grazing lands.
    In understanding this confusion and deriving a solution, it is instructive to
    observe what the courts have said on this matter.
    “The words ‘public lands’ are not always used in the same sense. Their true
    meaning and effect are to be determined by the context in which they are
    used, and it is the duty of the court not to give such a meaning to the words
    as would destroy the object and purpose of the law or lead to absurd results.
    United States v Blendaur, 128 F. 910, 913, 63 C.C.A. 636.”
    In common usage we see the term “public land” used to describe a variety of
    lands from national parks to wildlife refuges, grazing lands and virtually any
    land or site to which the public may have access.
    This broad-umbrella definition basically includes all lands or sites in which
    the United States has an interest and has been widely applied to rancher’s
    grazing allotments.
    A review of United States Supreme Court opinions where the issue involved
    lands of the public domain shows us that the term “public land” has a
    definite and fixed meaning. In Bardon v Northern Pacific Ry. Co. 12 S Ct
    856, 145 US 535, 538, 36 L Ed 806, the Court stated: “It is well settled that
    all land to which any claims or rights of others have attached does not fall
    within the designation of public land.”
    In Northern Pacific Railroad Company v Wismer, C.C.A. Wash., 230 F. 591,
    593, the Court held that “public lands are lands open to sale or other
    disposition under the general laws, lands to which no claims or rights of
    others have attached.”
    The primary origin of this confusion can be traced to the publication of the
    report of the Public Land Law Review Commission in 1968. The
    Commission, established in 1964, was ostensibly created to review and
    clarify the status of all land laws relating to the public domain.
    In the Commission’s Report, national forests, national grasslands, grazing
    districts, minerals, water recourses, wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation, etc;
    are all discussed within the context of the terms “public land” or “public
    domain.” This broad, all inclusive, and essentially political definition is in
    direct conflict with the lawful definition held by the United States Supreme
    Court: “lands to which no right or claim of another has attached”.
    The bulk of the western lands to fall under the “umbrella” definition are
    lands originally withdrawn from the public domain under the Forest Reserve
    Act, and known today as national forests. An even greater land mass was
    withdrawn from the public domain under the Taylor Grazing Act, and
    designated grazing districts.
    Virtually all national forest lands and grazing districts have rights attached in
    the form of vested water rights. Most of these water rights are for livestock
    watering purposes, giving the owner of the vested water right a fee (the
    inheritable right to use) in the land serviced by the stock water. It is this fee,
    based on the ownership of the water right, upon which the Internal Revenue
    Service assesses an inheritance tax at the passing of an estate from a
    deceased owner to his heirs; even though the underlying title to the land
    itself, with all its minerals, remains in the United States.
    A rancher’s grazing allotment, where he owns the water rights and the
    inheritable right to use the lands serviced by that water, is clearly land to
    which rights or claims of another have attached. Just as clearly, these lands
    cannot be public lands as defined by the United States Supreme Court.
    Grazing allotments are clearly not lands “available for disposal under the
    general land laws.”
    The discord in western land jurisprudence arises from the use of the term
    “public land” by the federal land management agencies in its broad, political
    sense, to characterize a rancher’s grazing allotment. They then attempt to
    invoke regulatory authority, which only applies to public lands when defined
    in the lawful sense. The agencies then demand that a rancher have agency
    permission to utilize his own water rights and grazing lands.
    If land of the United States is, in fact, “land available for disposal under the
    general land laws, lands to which no right or claim of another attaches,” then
    the Secretary of Agriculture or Interior has plenary power to exercise the
    authority granted by Congress under Article 4, Section 3, Clause 2 of the
    Constitution for the United States of America.
    “The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules and
    regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United
    States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to prejudice
    any claims of the United States, or of any particular state.”
    If Congress has made rules and regulations, which resulted in “rights and
    claims of another” attaching, then certainly, those property rights greatly
    restrain the power of the Congress and the Secretaries of Interior and
    Agriculture, relative to those lands.
    Congress did, in fact, create many land disposal laws, some of which
    resulted in the acquiring of the fee (the inheritable right to use the land) in
    association with vested water rights.
    Successful arguments, relative to ranchers grazing allotments, must clearly
    make the distinction between public land and fee land. (Hage v US) Too
    often the rancher and his counsel have fallen into the trap created by the use
    of the term “public land”, by the United States. By failing to rebut the use of
    the term “public land” the rancher has essentially stipulated that he has no
    rights to defend. The opponent then can invoke Article 4, Section 3, Clause
    2 and the myriad grazing regulations from the Code of Federal Regulations
    to defeat the rancher.
    It is imperative to properly assert title to fee lands, based on the ownership
    of vested water rights, and to consistently rebut any use of the term “public
    lands.” The argument can then be confined to the issue of property rights.
    Regulations of the agencies under a grazing permit are not relevant to vested
    water rights and fee lands unless the owner of those rights chooses to
    subordinate his property to agency control.
    Related, recommended reading:
    Bardon v. Northern Pac. R. Co., 145 U.S. 535 (1892)
    Link to the Case Preview: http://supreme.justia.com/us/145/535/
    Link to the Full Text of Case:
    http://supreme.justia.com/us/145/535/case.html
    Article 4, Section 3, Clause 2 (U.S. Constitution)
    The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and
    Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the
    United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to
    Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.
    1. Records of the Federal Convention
    2. Levi Lincoln, Governor of the Northwest Territory, 2 February 1802
    3. St. George Tucker, Blackstone’s Commentaries 1:App. 283–86, 1803
    4. Sere v. Pitot
    5. Johnson & Graham v. M’Intosh
    6. James Kent, Commentaries 1:360–61, 1826
    7. American Insurance Co. v. Canter
    8. Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution 3:§§ 1317–22, 1833
    http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/tocs/a4_3_2.html
    Hage v. U.S.

    Click to access hagedecision2002.pdf


    January 29, 2002 (35 pages; 529 KB)
    http://www.stewardsoftherange.org/hage_v_us/preliminary-opinion.asp
    November 5, 1998
    http://www.stewardsoftherange.org/casecitations/hagevus96.pdf (18 pages;
    2.63 MB)
    The Finish Line in Sight for Landmark Hage v. U.S.
    — Closing Arguments Heard in Takings Case for Nevada Rancher
    October 31, 2004
    It’s been nearly fourteen years since Nevada rancher, Wayne Hage and his
    late wife, Jean, filed their takings case against the United States. On
    Thursday, October 21, 2004, ranchers from at least five states crowded into
    the small courtroom and spilled out into the hallway to hear the closing
    arguments in this landmark case being heard by Judge Loren Smith of the
    U.S. Federal Claims Court.
    Reno, Nevada (PRWEB) – It’s been nearly fourteen years since Nevada
    rancher, Wayne Hage and his late wife, Jean, filed their takings case against
    the United States. On Thursday, October 21, 2004, ranchers from at least
    five states crowded into the small courtroom and spilled out into the hallway
    to hear the closing arguments in this landmark case being heard by Judge
    Loren Smith of the U.S. Federal Claims Court.
    Wayne Hage is no stranger to the courts. From the time Hage purchased
    Pine Creek Ranch in 1978 until he filed the takings case in 1991, Hage spent
    countless hours fighting the BLM and the Forest Service over his water and
    grazing rights. The mission of the government agencies was clearly to
    reclaim the use of the federal lands that Hage had permits on, by whatever
    means necessary, including fencing off Hage’s springs and the eventual
    confiscation of his cattle.
    During the three weeks takings trial held in Reno last May, Judge Smith
    heard how Hage purchased the property rights when he bought Pine Creek
    Ranch and how he created additional property rights through range
    improvements. The evidence proved that Hage had patented parcels of land
    totaling about 7,000 acres, water rights in seven streams confirmed by the
    Nevada state engineer, underground water located all over the ranch, 1866
    ditch rights-of-way which were purchased with the ranch for conveyance of
    water for irrigation and stock and range improvements such as water tanks,
    pipes and troughs, fences, spring improvements, ditches, corrals, cow camps,
    roads and trails.
    Throughout the first trial, the Judge also heard how the government’s actions
    harassed and interfered with Hage to the point at which this profitable ranch
    was no longer a viable economic operation. Without notification, the Forest
    Service introduced a small herd of elk onto one of Hage’s primary grazing
    allotments in 1979. By 1990, the allotment was overrun by the ever-growing
    elk herd and Hage’s allotment numbers had been either cancelled or
    suspended to the point at which the allotment was unusable for the ranch’s
    livestock operation.
    On the brink of bankruptcy, Hage filed suit in 1991, choosing to fight for his
    constitutional rights. In an earlier case, the Court found that Hage did, in
    fact, own the rights to the water, the ditch rights of way and the forage
    adjoining the ditches. Based on that decision, the Courts must now decide
    whether the government took those rights from Hage and if so, how much
    compensation Hage is due for the takings.
    A summary of the value of the ranch, as presented by Hage’s attorneys, was
    $23,979,000, which includes $12,000,000 for the water rights alone. The
    government suggested a value of $1,500,000, slightly more than what Hage
    paid for the ranch over twenty-five years ago. Hage’s attorney pointed out
    that should the government acquire the ranch at their suggested price, they
    would have an immediate gain of $12,000,000 in the 20,000 acre feet of
    water alone.
    Judge Smith issued an admonition to counsel to explore every possibility of
    a settlement and scheduled a telephone conference to discuss such on
    November 18, 2004. If no settlement is announced, or if counsel cannot
    report any real possibility of settlement, Judge Smith will then begin to put
    together his decision in this historic case.
    Ranchers and other landowners across America are anxiously awaiting the
    outcome of this historical case as many have similar circumstances facing
    aggressive environmental agendas and federal agency policies that threaten
    their property rights and for some, their livelihood.
    A complete case history and detailed trial reports are available online at
    http://www.stewardsoftherange.org
    Contact Information:
    Margaret Byfield, Stewards of the Range
    http://www.stewardsoftherange.org
    512-365-8038

    Click to access pr.pdf


    Watt v. Western Nuclear, Inc., 462 U.S. 36 (1983)
    Link to the Case Preview: http://supreme.justia.com/us/462/36/
    Link to the Full Text of Case: http://supreme.justia.com/us/462/36/case.html
    U.S. Court Judgments
    http://www.stewardsoftherange.org/FedLand/fedland-timelineusc.htm
    “As a teenager, I used to wonder if Johnny Tremaine, Nathan Hale and John
    Paul Jones knew what exciting times they grew up in. I suspected they were
    oblivious to their place in history and wished I could have been there to
    partake in the creation of a new nation, founded in liberty & justice for all.
    And now I look around, and I see I have the very same opportunity I yearned
    for so long (ago).” – Rich Martin, June 15, 2003.

  49. Thank you for the Hage commentary. Very interesting.

  50. […] area manager Tom Seley and Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Service ranger Steve Williams in contempt for witness intimidation and attempts to circumvent the jurisdiction of the court. The judge said […]

  51. […] of those comparisons is to the Hage ranch litigation that has lasted more than two decades and outlived the father and mother of the current owner of […]

  52. […] The case involves the estate of E. Wayne Hage and his son Wayne N. Hage and has been going on since 1979. […]

  53. […] private land and grazing permits for 752,000 acres of federal public land, as well as water rights. His clash with the federal agencies soon began. In 1983 alone he received 40 letters from and 70 visits by […]

  54. […] Land Management area manager Tom Seley and Humboldt- National Forest Service ranger Steve Williams in contempt for witness intimidation and attempts to circumvent the jurisdiction of Toiyabe the court. The […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s