Nevada: Judge rules Hage doesn't need grazing permit
December 18, 2002
Nevada Live Stock Association
P.O. Box 639
Hawthorne, Nevada 89415
In a hearing before the United States Court of Federal Claims, Washington,
D.C., on December 11, 2002, Senior Judge Loren Smith ruled that Tonopah,
Nevada, rancher Wayne Hage, did not need a grazing permit to access
water rights and forage on his grazing allotments.
"This is another landmark decision for us, long in coming,"
said Wayne Hage
from Pine Creek Ranch.
Judge Smith ruled on a Motion for Summary Judgment brought by the
States on behalf of the United States Forest Service and the Bureau
Management. The Motion placed the issue of a mandatory grazing permit
squarely before the Court. The Court dismissed the motion, in Hage's
as a matter of law.
"We now know, as I have said for years, that ranchers do not
need a grazing
permit to use our water and forage," said Hage.
Other issues of the litigation discussed in the hearing were discovery,
deposition lists for the 'taking' phase, and compensation.
"Considerable discussion was given in the hearing to the question
of how to
place a value
on the compensation owed by the United States for the taking of my
Instead of denying we own anything, it's nice to hear them ask how
owe us," said Hage.
The litigation, Hage v. U.S. was originally filed in 1991 when the
Forest Service attempted to take Hage's water rights and grazing allotments
by canceling his grazing permit. Hage has argued that his property
in water and forage are not dependent on a federal grazing permit.
Smith has now settled this matter.
In January, the same court, in a Final Decision and Finding of Fact,
that Hage's water rights were vested and that the allotments themselves
"fee lands" to which Hage had title. The court found that,
based on his
vested water rights, Hage had an inheritable right to use the lands
United States for livestock grazing. Fee is defined as an estate in
inheritance without condition, belonging to the owner in perpetuity
Black's Law Dictionary). The Decision said that Hage owned the "fee"
the underlying naked title to the land and minerals remained in the
For further information contact: Wayne Hage 775-482-4817 or Ramona
Morrison, Secretary, Nevada Live Stock Association, 775-424-0570.