Skip to comments.Nev. rancher awarded $4.2M for 'taken' water right ( Sagebrush Rebellion )
Posted on 06/10/2008 9:59:35 PM PDT by george76
A judge awarded more than $4.2 million to a late Nevada rancher's estate after finding that the U.S. Forest Service engaged in an unconstitutional "taking" of water rights out of hostility to the rancher, a property rights activist.
The decision ... involved the Fifth Amendment clause against private property being taken for public use without just compensation.
The rancher, Wayne Hage, bought the sprawling Pine Creek Ranch in central Nevada in 1978.
the taking occurred when the Forest Service made it impossible for Hage to maintain irrigation ditches, which deprived the ranch of water and made it unviable.
The government demanded that he maintain the ditches using nothing more than hand tools.
Hage first filed a claim seeking $28 million in 1991. In an interview in 2004, two years before his death, he told The Associated Press his case could dramatically impact states' rights and federal lands in the West.
"It's the first time in nearly a century that someone has effectively challenged the government over who owns the range rights and water rights out here on these federal lands,"
The judge noted that hand tools would not be effective over such vast expanse of land. The ditches brought water to the 7,000-acre ranch as well as the 700,000 acres of national forest land where Hage grazed his cattle.
Hage "offered ample evidence that the Forest Service had engaged in harassment toward (him), enough to suggest that the implementation of the hand tools requirement was based solely on hostility to plaintiffs,"...
Hage was one of the leaders of the so-called "Sagebrush Rebellion" during the 1980s, a movement among Western landowners who believed the federal government had no jurisdiction over their property because the ranches predate the federal agencies that sought to regulate them.
(Excerpt) Read more at charlotte.com ...
Helen was right, God Rest her soul!
"We're aware of Friday's court decision and our agency is now considering the implications of this ruling and carefully weighing options," Monnig said.
So now they'll print more money and delay and appeal and delay and delay and ...
... hope to wait for the deaths of the heirs?
Nice government we got here, no?
Now why in the h$ll do we have to read it in a North Carolina newspaper
Are you sure this isn’t Scrappleface?
I mean... a court actually ruling in
favor of a big, rich, landowner seems
“I am,” former Governor Ronald Reagan proudly proclaimed in 1980, “a Sagebrush Rebel.” Reagan’s common cause with westerners besieged by a host of federal agencies came as no surprise.
Forty-four percent of California, which Reagan governed for eight years, is managed by those agencies; thus, he saw hubris, hyperbole, and humor whenever a federal employee declared, “I’m from the federal government and I’m here to help you.”
When Ronald Reagan was sworn in, he became the first president since the birth of the modern environmental movement a decade before to have seen, first hand, the impact of excessive federal environmental regulation on the ability: of state governments to perform their constitutional functions; of local governments to sustain healthy economies; and of private citizens to use their own property.
I pray the money is put to good use in causes and actions that they both would have desired and used it for themselves.
Not enough money to teach the Feds a lesson. But, it is the precedent needed by those of us who are dealing with ESA, TMDLs and other issues where there is no balance or common sense being used.
I was in Jarbidge and Klamath with you and many others. Thanks for the leadership you have shown. The water wars of California are just getting worse.
Excellent news here eh? Cheers from a fellow veteran of the Klamath Falls incident.
“Nice government we got here, no?”
Well... not to try to plump this up, what Wayne was seeking was a valuation on his water rights most of all.
See, in Nevada, there are three levels of water rights:
- Vested rights
- adjudicated rights
- permitted rights.
If you have vested rights, you can stop using your rights for a period of years and pick back up where you left off. They’re the most valuable of all water rights.
Adjudicated rights, in some instances, and permitted rights, can be forfeited for non-use. You must use your water to “beneficial use” at least once every five years.
If you lose the water rights on a ranch, you’ve just lost a huge chunk (if not the majority) of the valuation of that property.
In order to use the water on grazing allotments, you must have cattle in the allotment to drink the water. If the BLM or USFS kick you off the allotment, no cattle means no “beneficial use.”
What the Feds want to be able to do is kick your cattle off the land, force you to forfeit your water rights, which the Feds will then apply for with the NV State Engineer’s office. The Feds want the water - dating back to when Bruce Babbit was SecInterior.
Wayne was saying:
a) the government has the power to take my property. They have the power to take away my grazing rights too.
b) but this amounts to a taking via forfeiture of my water rights too.
c) and you’re going to pay me for those, and they’re valuable.
With this case in hand, ranchers who are losing their rights on springs, seeps, streams and the like can apply to the Court of Claims for a taking, and now they have a case for comparative valuation of their water rights. The BLM and USFS does this crap a LOT, so if even 50% of the ranchers affected apply for a taking compensation, the DOI/USDA will be forking out 10’s of millions of dollars every year to compensate ranchers for the water rights they’re losing. The agencies simply do not have that money in their budgets.
Wayne was a very sharp guy. I enjoyed talking with him and Helen whenever they came through our valley. Nice people. We’d sit in the Owl Club in Eureka and chat for quite some time....
It is communism that holds that the rich have no rights.
The founding fathers put great faith in the rich as the saviors of the people.
The best of us provide a living for the rest of us...there is NO other way.
-—I hope Dick Carver is smiling somewhere-—
—another editorial on the subject—
>Now why in the h$ll do we have to read it in a North Carolina newspaper.<
There was an email from the Stewards last week, and these others.
The government demanded that he maintain the ditches using nothing more than hand tools
Dirty Filthy Eco-Nazis
Bump for the sane judge that heard the case.
I’m a proud member of the Sagebrush Rebellion since 1978.
I still think the Intermountain West should abdicate bump.
Sadly, the “war on the west” continues unabated...
I'm not so sure. The 4.2 million is a small fraction of the real damages, so perhaps the judge has pulled an inverse Solomon on them. If the heirs decide to take the money and shut up, the case is over, and the pittance will set precedent, and make the next case likely to get even less.
This will just continue to get worse until the faceless beaucratic are made to be responsible from their own financial well-being. The response is always that people wouldn’t take the government jobs if their personal fortunes were at stake. And the response to that is, “What’s your point?”
From Liberty Matters:
Epic Victory for Hage Family
After 17 years in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, Wayne and Jean Hage’s takings case has been decided and it is a great victory for private property rights in America!
The Hages claimed that the federal government (U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management) had taken their western ranch, a combination of private base property and federal grazing allotments, through physical and regulatory takings. It is a landmark case because it is the first of its kind to achieve clarity as to what property rights ranchers own on federal grazing allotments and clarifies that if certain property rights are taken through grazing and environmental regulations, the government must pay just compensation.
The court decided that the Hages owned the water rights, ditch rights of ways, and the range improvements on the federal lands. It also found that although the government has the right to authorize and cancel grazing permits, it does not have the right to prevent the ranchers from accessing their water rights on federal lands. The court ruled that a regulatory and physical taking occurred and, therefore, the government owes the estates of Wayne and Jean Hage just compensation, interest for the 17 years, and attorney’s fees.
Stewards of the Range, a membership driven, non-profit organization, assisted the Hage case with funding. Without the Stewards members, this landmark decision would not be written in case law, stated Margaret Byfield, executive director of Stewards. The critical precedent and deterrent is now set that when land management agencies attempt to regulate away private property, they risk invoking a taking for which they must pay just compensation under the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution.
I have been a proud member of the Sagebrush Rebellion/Win Back the West movement since 1990.
Will the government appeal the jury’s decision? Also... why did it take 17 years for this decision?
At last, something for the right side.