Newspaper column: Federal judge slaps down federal land agents

Wayne Hage, left, his son Wayne N. Hage, and young Hage niece, Kristin, in 1999 during branding at Pine Creek Ranch near Tonopah, Nev. (Photo by Ramona Hage)

During the course of the trial, according to Jones, the government invited others to apply for grazing permits on allotments held by the Hages, applied with the Nevada State Engineer for its own watering rights in an effort to interfere with the Hages’ rights, and issued trespass notices and demands for payment to witnesses soon after they testified in this case.

The judge ordered Hage to apply for a permit and for the federal agencies to grant it. He also enjoined the government from issuing trespass or impound notices to Hage.

In 1986, Hage stopped applying for special use permits to maintain his water sources and ditches on federal land, arguing he had an “absolute right” under Nevada water law to maintain them.

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 — a bit more than $165.88.

That year, Hage filed suit claiming a “taking” of his property rights under the Fifth Amendment.

At one point in the many iterations of the Hage litigation a federal court awarded the Hages $2.9 million for the taking of their water rights under the Fifth Amendment and $1.4 million in statutory compensation for improvements made in connection with the revoked grazing permit. With interest the total award amounted to $14.2 million. And that was four years ago.

An appellate court vacated the award, saying the case was not yet “ripe” because the Hages had failed to continue filing for grazing permits, even though it would have been a futile gesture.

The Fifth Amendment “takings” case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is scheduled to decide this month whether to hear it.

Considerably more than $165.88 is at stake.

Read the entire column at the Ely or Elko websites.

 

10 comments on “Newspaper column: Federal judge slaps down federal land agents

  1. Rincon says:

    The real injustice is that Hages were not allowed their Constitutional right to a speedy trial.

  2. The family had 8 or 9 speedy trials.

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  3. Wendy Ellis says:

    The entire ordeal has been a trial for them. The federal government has three responsibilities, as I see it.

    1. Uphold the US Constitution
    2. Keep the enemy off our shores
    3. Keep the criminals off our streets

    They are unwilling, and apparently unable, to fulfill their responsibilities. When states try to pick up the slack, they get smacked down. Their motto is: “You make it, we take it…and give it to someone else who hasn’t earned it.”

    My heart goes out to the family. I wonder how much they have incurred in legal fees?

  4. Vernon Clayson says:

    Maybe Harry Reid will step in as amicus curiae for this family, and maybe cattle will sprout wings and fly. That friend of the court business requires that the individual has no part in the case at issue but who can even imagine that Senator Reid hasn’t any involvement in federal land or water issues in Nevada? I doubt the Hage family will find any friends among the member of the Supreme Court, maybe they will get a laugh out of ruling that cattle and cattle land don’t pass the “smell” test, a little inside joke for these robed city folk.

  5. I’m stepped in lots smell test in my time.

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  6. Rincon says:

    I guess appeals count as a separate trial, but how did they get hit with 8 or 9? Even then, 22 years divided by 9 trials averages almost 2 1/2 years each. Not speedy by my definition.

  7. […] past month a Nevada federal judge ordered Hage to apply for a permit and for the federal agencies to grant it. He also enjoined the government from issuing […]

  8. […] fantasy about global warming or comply with burdensome regulations or to fight a bureaucracy for your water rights or to fight a bureaucracy that has made your land worthless by diverting water from it or to be […]

  9. […] 22 years the Hage family has been battling the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service in federal court over grazing and water rights […]

  10. […] 22 years the Hage family has been battling the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service in federal court over grazing and water rights […]

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