Skip to comments.Wayne Hage Passes Away
Posted on 06/05/2006 7:37:15 PM PDT by holyscroller
I am sorry to deliver this news to you, but early this afternoon, my good friend and the great man we all admired and supported, Wayne Hage, passed away peacefully at his home on Pine Creek Ranch.
A few weeks ago, Margaret showed him the many letters and notes all of you had sent to him, and he was overwhelmed at the warm thoughts and prayers that were within these. They gave him great comfort in his final days. The family wanted to make sure you knew how much these were appreciated by him.
Funeral arrangements are being made by the family now and we will let you know when the service will occur.
God Bless Wayne Hage.
Frank T. Duran, President
From: Stewards of the Range [ mailto:Stewards_of_the_Range@mail
To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Wayne Hage
Prayers for his family and friends. They will need a lot of support right now.
Please pass the word. Wayne had many friends on this board
I'm very sorry to hear this. Prayers on the way for his family and friends.
Please let everyone know who knew and admired Wayne.
Prayers for God to comfort the family.
Condolences from this quarter. What an enormous loss.
An American Original: Wayne Hage
Throughout American history, men of great character have risen to the cause of liberty, sacrificing their personal safety to ensure liberty for generations to come. After fighting a twelve year battle for his land with the federal land management agencies and national environmental organizations, Wayne Hage filed one of the most important cases of our time. Few have had the courage of their convictions to place everything on the line for our precious constitutional principles. Wayne Hage is such a man. Liberty Matters recently met with Wayne for this personal interview.
LM: You have a long history fighting for property rights, what were some of the first issues you worked on?
WH: When I was ranching in the state of California in the 60s and 70s, I was quite heavily involved in the California State Chamber of Commerce. I chaired a committee in the state chamber dealing with land use and taxation. At that time we were just starting to see the environmental movement rise to the forefront. I had the opportunity of sitting across the table with people who later became active in the environmental movement.
One of the things that probably drove home where the environmental movement was coming from, was Assembly Bill 10. AB 10 attempted to socialize all of California agriculture. It was an effort to take away all private property rights, put everything under the control of bureaucracy, and do away with any type of mechanized agriculture putting people back to using horse and ox power. We realized that behind this legislation was a very serious movement that had international backing. Our own people in the California Chamber and some of the conservative groups in California said that there was no way we could stop this bill. We did defeat that bill, and the way we beat it was to run another bill through the Senate which accomplished everything that the assembly bill purported to accomplish, but we did it from a private property perspective.
Dealing with that group in California more than 20 years ago gave me a taste of what the nation was in for. The environmental movement has nothing to do with the so-called protection of the environment, that was the window dressing, that was the issue used to take private property without compensation.
LM: From the moment you purchased Pine Creek Ranch, the federal government harassment began. Why do you think you were the target of their campaign?
WH: The issue that focused the federal governments attack on myself came within about two months of purchasing Pine Creek Ranch in June of 1978. I got a call from two guys with the National Park Service who were visiting Tonopah. I met them at a local restaurant where they informed me that they were going to buy Pine Creek Ranch. They offered me about half of what I had just purchased the ranch for, so obviously we didnt do business. When they saw that I wasnt going to sell the place on their terms, the harassment began. The agencies work together, and the environmentalists pretty well dictate what goes on with the land management agencies such as the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and Corps of Engineers. After I refused to sell, the Forest Service began just common old harassment to increase the cost of operation so much for Pine Creek Ranch, that I would eventually be frozen out and they would get the ranch by default.
LM: Why did they target the Pine Creek Ranch property?
WH: Pine Creek Ranch is a very picturesque area, it has high mountains on two sides on the northern end. The home ranch headquarters is supposed to be one of the most remote spots in the contiguous 48 states. Also Pine Creek is a large source of fresh water in Central Nevada. The water that we use for stockwater and irrigation can gravity flow to Las Vegas or Los Angeles. It has a very high dollar value if used for domestic or municipal purposes in one of the large metropolitan areas. It has caused a lot of people to look somewhat covetously at the property.
LM: In 1991, the Forest Service confiscated your cattle armed with semi-automatic rifles and wearing bullet proof vests. How were you able to keep a cool head when they were obviously trying to provoke you?
WH: Well, the basic reason is a solid Christian grounding as far as an outlook on life. That is, make sure you keep your own house clean, obey the law and do what is right to the best of your ability. I also spent a little time in my earlier years working for the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. I knew that part of their unwritten procedure in dealing with people is to provoke confrontations because one of the easiest ways, and one of the only lawful ways for a federal agency to come after an individual citizen, is if that citizen has in any way physically threatened them. So, when they are trying to create a situation that is adverse to the private citizen, they create confrontations and push people past the point of control to where theyll do something that could be construed to be of a violent nature. Knowing that this is part of their practice, the strategy is dont take the bate.
LM: When you and your wife Jean filed the takings case Hage v. United States, you
did something different and filed your case in the US Court of Federal Claims. What convinced you to take this step?
WH: One of the biggest insights of how to properly sue the federal government on property issues came from the environmentalists themselves. Back in the early 1980s, the US was attempting to install a race track MX missile system. It was a massive project and would have included two-thirds of the State of Nevada, and portions of Idaho, Utah and California. The people most directly impacted were the ranchers and we happened to be right in the middle of it. A suit was brought, I wasnt party to that suit, but I was on the board of litigation. The environmentalists were involved in the suit on the same side.
At a meeting in San Francisco I had an enlightening conversation with a legal researcher for the combined environmental movement. She told me, you ranchers can stop the MX, you have property rights on that range and if youd stand on that we environmentalists could paper the government to death and they would lose. I agreed with her and asked how she learned about this. She explained that the environmentalists thought all they needed to do to get rid of the ranchers was to get an Executive Order from some president who would be favorable to the environmental movement. When Carter was elected, they began drawing up an Executive Order and in researching the legalities involved found that the ranchers own those grazing allotments, that they are private property. I asked if she was afraid that we would use that information against them later on. She said she expected us to, but before we get that done, the environmentalists will have so many environmental regulations and rules laid on us that wed all be broke.
The essence of that discussion confirmed for me that they knew what they were doing. I knew that any resolution of this issue had to be on the basis of property. When they come in at gun point and confiscate your livestock and tell you you cant clean your irrigation ditches, thats pretty plain that theyre telling you you cant use your property. Obviously, we had a takings issue, a Fifth Amendment issue.
LM: Why are the principles in this case so important to you?
WH: It goes right to the basic premise of what constitutes a free society. There are no such things as civil liberties if you do not have private property and a force of law and justice to protect that private property. The founders of this nation knew that. The wise men over the ages who have helped structure free governments have known that. If we are going to give up on private property then that is another way of saying we are going to give up on civil liberties and surrender to the tyrants. Were going to subject ourselves and our offspring to a future of slavery. In other words, a return to the same type of climate that existed throughout so much of the world and kept people in poverty and bondage and despair prior to the establishment of free government in the western world in recent centuries. If youre going to stand back and let people violate with impunity, the basic premise of private property, then we may as well throw in the towel on the rest of our civil liberties because its not a matter of if, its only a matter of when are we going to lose the rest of them. If a persons cattle on his own range allotment isnt safe, if his own ditches and water rights arent safe, if his patented private property is not safe, and if they can take those things at gun point, well then certainly they can take anything else they want at gun point. They can take your stock and bond portfolio, they can take your bank account, whatever other type of property you might have.
LM: How have you been able to gather the support for the case?
WH: Right from the beginning there were people who jumped on board, people who well understood what the implications were, what was going to be lost if we didnt successfully fight it and what was going to be won if we did. Many have stayed with us over the seven years that weve been in court. But we didnt get the support of the Livestock and Agricultural organizations that you would normally think would stand behind us. All the government has to do is suggest to one of the officials in those organizations that if they support that Hage case then maybe theyll find endangered species on their range next, or maybe theyll find a wetlands on their farm, or maybe their crop subsidies will be jeopardized. If it hadnt been for the people at Stewards of the Range, we would have been left high and dry with no support for the case.
LM: Since the filing of the case, the federal government has applied a tremendous amount of pressure on you to drop this action. What has kept you in this fight, when it would have been much easier to walk away?
WH: We are not fighting over whether I personally end up owning Pine Creek Ranch or I dont. Thats not the issue. The broad issue is whether me, my children, my friends, my acquaintances, my fellow countrymen are going to be able to see a free society in the future. When you begin to look at it in the broad perspective and see what the implications are if you let government go uncontrolled, government will become a thief, government will become a destroyer of free society and the people themselves. All we have to do is go back to the debates on the Constitution where the founders of this country hammered on this theme continuously, that it was essential for whatever kind of a central government we had that we bind it with the chains of the Constitution. What has happened in recent generations is people have willingly loosened those chains. Now we have a monster on the loose. Some of us are working diligently to try and get the chains back on which has been the thrust with this litigation. But until we get government back in control, nobodys property is safe, nobodys freedom is safe.
LM: Why do you think our nation is facing this Constitutional crisis and what can people do about it?
WH: The reason were facing this constitutional crisis is because the people of the nation as a whole have forgotten the basic premises upon which the Constitution was based. This country was founded on basic Christian principles. It was founded on the concept that under God, people are sovereign in their own right. So, we structured the Constitutional form of government under the common law, the common law being an expression of the ten commandments. A person was free to do anything they wanted to dothey could succeed, they could fail, they could do whatever they wanted to do in life as long as they didnt infringe the life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness of someone else.
John Adams pointed out that the Constitution was created for a moral people. That it would not be effective if we some day became an immoral nation. In the beginning, we had a country that acknowledged in all of its institutions the basic Christian background. We have gone from that point to where we have laws on the books that purge any resemblance of Christianity from our public institutions. We have replaced the Christian philosophy with the philosophy of Fredrick Nietzsche which is basically situational ethics God is dead. As long as you can get away with it its not wrong, there are no absolutes, its simply just another shade of gray. When you really carry situational ethics to its ultimate, you have the classic criminal mentality. A society which embraces this philosophy is no longer capable of being the guardians the Constitution required to maintain that free society.
LM: What impact is the case having on the environmental agenda?
WH: As people begin to understand this case, they also begin to understand the corruptness and the depth of criminality that exists in the environmental movement. It demonstrates that the environmental movement has nothing to do with the protection of the environment but has everything to do with the destruction of private property rights. This case bears that out so vividly that the more people are exposed to it, the more that fringe area around the environmental movement comes back and in some cases becomes very strong supporters.
LM: Do you consider your cause to be anti-government?
WH: Im not anti-government. In fact Im one of the strongest advocates of government there is. Thats why I work to expose this environmental agenda, which is anti- government. The end result of their agenda is anarchy and chaos and the destruction of any form of effective government. The environmental agenda flies in the face of the common law that was given to this people when this nation was founded. The environmental movement has worked over time to destroy and undermine the very precepts of government in which this nation had its origins and thrived so effectively for so many years. Im fighting those anti government people in the environmental movement.
LM: What advice would you give to a landowner facing the same challenges to their property rights that you have faced?
WH: The basic advice that I would give anybody facing a challenge from government taking, regulatory or physical, is number one, exhaust your administrative remedies the most effective way that you can and if that sounds complicated, let me make it simple. Do not enter into the argument over rules and regulations. Concede up front that if the government wants to make rules and regulations thats their business. Your argument needs to be what that government action is doing to your property and the value of your property. Keep your arguments simple and keep it dealing strictly with property and value. Refuse to get dragged into the trap about wetlands, endangered species, or any of the other issues that they try to sidetrack you with and eventually get you into Federal District Court. If a person will follow that track, they can exhaust their administrative remedies most effectively, they can do it in the most cost effective manner and it puts them in a very strong position when they go into the U.S. Court of Claims.
Wayne Hage lives on Pine Creek Ranch outside of Tonopah, Nevada.
I am very sorry to hear this news. America is the poorer now.
As I read this post, my immediate thought was that it's tragic that we don't have members of Congress who have this man's principles and fortitude to do what is right. America's tragic loss.
Prayers for Wayne and family. We have lost a true patriot.
Hages provide solutions to PRFW Couple details property battles with government
By CHRIS MARCHESO June 05, 2006
Fort Morgan Times
Fort Morgan CO
Ranchers and farmers have been and still are in a war for private property rights throughout the U.S., and Helen Chenoweth-Hage said if the war isn't won, ranchers and farmers face losing as much as if the U.S. would have lost World War II.
Helen and her husband of six years, Wayne Hage, spoke Wednesday at the Country Steak Out, 19592 E. Eighth Ave., to nearly 200 people involved with the Property Rights Foundation of the West, a non-profit organization in Fort Morgan designed to protect and preserve, through information, education, advocacy and support, the individual property rights of farmers and ranchers in the area from state and federal government takings.
Wayne is a rancher in Tonopah, Nev., geographically in the center of the state, and has spent 14 years in federal courts defending his property rights as both the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management had continually cited and charged him for various violations. At one point, in a 107-day working season, he received 40 citations and 70 visits from the two agencies.
So Hage, along with his first wife (now deceased) and his five children, waged a war against the federal government and has been in and out of courts for the past 14 years and is still involved with Hage v. United States, a case that is still in litigation and has become influential in the fight for property rights for ranchers and farmers in the U.S.
"A right undefended is a right waived," Wayne said. "We have to get away from just talking about our problems together and start talking about solutions. People who are truly claiming rights are the people government wants to leave alone."
Helen, congresswoman of Idaho from 1994 through 2000, has also been influential in protecting property rights as she served as chairwoman to the House Forestry Sub-Committee in her second term and is currently serving on the Board of Directors of Mountain States' Legal Foundation and Defenders Property Rights. After marrying Wayne in 1999, she returned from Congress with him to his Nevada ranch where took on the role of a rancher's wife and helped to progress Wayne's fight for his property.
"I wanted to get back where the real people and the real life was," Helen said. "And this life is worth fighting for."
When it comes to property rights cases for ranchers and farmers throughout the U.S., the two most common misconceptions that Nevada rancher Wayne has seen is a misunderstanding of what property really is in property rights cases and knowing what questions to ask in which courts.
One of the primary reasons taking cases are lost is a lack of knowledge as to what property is. The majority of lawyers, as well as farmers and ranchers, say in their cases that the property being taken is what Wayne called the subject, or the physical property like land, wells or water. But what is actually being taken away is the access to the property and being able to make beneficial use of the property, Wayne said, and that is what should be defined as property in a case. The physical property will be there, but government often prevents farmers and ranchers from accessing the subject of property.
"Property and access are synonymous," Wayne said.
Another very significant reason for losing these cases is lawyers taking them to the wrong court. Most of the cases he has seen have been filed in Federal District Court, but this court doesn't have jurisdiction over property valued at $10,000 or more; most takings cases exceed $10,000. Wayne said these types of cases must go to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and while he has worked to make this known, lawyers are continually told they have "the right question in the wrong court," he said, when they don't take cases to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
Wayne said he knows of five lawyers who know how to adequately handle and present these types of cases, but one is now a judge for the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
"Make sure your lawyer gets the right question in the right court and make sure both he and you understand what property is," Wayne said.
When taking a case to the state or federal level, Wayne said the most powerful tool a farmer or ranch can have is an exhaustive chain of title. Providing just a title or deed, as well as title insurance, is not enough to show true ownership. These are usually referred to as color of title, basically documents that don't truly state one way or the other who the title really belongs to.
An exhaustive chain of title, which Helen worked diligently to get for Wayne, begins with a title or deed and must be traced back by each change of deed between grantees and grantors back to the first source document when the property was first owned, which Wayne said is usually a patent. Once all certified documents from the respective county can be traced from the original source to the current title or deed, Wayne said any kind of government has no dispute as to the ownership of the property.
Helen said there are incidents when documents can be destroyed or in Wayne's case, his current county used to be part of another county, so Helen had to go to the old county to get documents. All documents can be traced somehow, whether it be through title books, water books, marriage licenses or newspaper accounts, among others.
"If you've done your homework, you can cram that down government's throat," Wayne said.
With an exhaustive chain of title, the property becomes a vested right for the owner and Helen defined a vested right as "absolute, complete and unconditional in itself" and "cannot be taken away unless though due process and just compensation."
Although they want to, Helen said many ranchers and farmers are beginning to not trust their governments.
"The law is on your side," Helen said. "You really have a great case in front of you."
A long road
Both Helen and Wayne said the war has not been easy. At one point, Wayne was put in an ankle bracelet and faced felony charges for "damaging federal property." But Helen said often times, violations and charges he received included things like having trash on the edge of his allotment and when Wayne went to inspect it, it was trash the forestry service had left; he received a fence maintenance violation on his property and after traveling almost a day to get to where the violation was as it was about 4,000 feet higher in elevation than the base of his property, the violation was for one staple that was missing in a fence post, and once when Wayne's cattle had stepped over his property line, the forest service brought in military action, confiscated his cattle and took them to an auction house in Nevada to be sold. When the auction house wouldn't take the cattle for not being properly transferred, the forestry service took them to California to be auctioned and charged Wayne for the confiscation and transfer.
Wayne's five children often received ridicule in school for being a Hage as the family had made a name for itself fighting the government, and Wayne said once someone emerges himself in a case like this, je will most likely be fairly lonely for a while.
"People that used to be your friends and neighbors often turn their heads from you when you become involved and they try to maintain a good relationship with the federal agencies," Wayne said. "You become well-isolated. Just be sure to know what you're doing, why you're doing it and stick to your guns."
Helen said both she and Wayne are hard-headed people who are determined to continue this war.
"It's absolutely amazing that the beautiful state of Colorado is doing what it's doing to your property rights," Helen said. "When we win, they lose. We can do it in the end."
Wayne was a man who lived as we would like to believe we could. I'll never forget him.
We have lost a giant in the fight for freedom.
I will make it a point to learn more about him, and his efforts regarding the protection of our property rights.
Prayers for Wayne and his family.
God Bless Wayne Hage.
Praying for his family.
I join in prayer for all of his family as they deal with his homegoing!
Prayers for Wayne. I have met him several times since the early 1990s at many trainings and the "Win Back The West Series." His book, "Storm Over Rangelands" taught me much about property rights in the West and launched my own years of research. I probably would not be in local elected office today without having encountered Wayne and Dick Carver.
It is so unjust that he has essentially won on almost all of his grounds for establishing "split estate" propert rights on federally managed lands, but that he and his first wife never lived to see the court finish the job and award him monetary compensation for the USFS property taking for the value of his ranch under the Fifth Amendment. Justice is not speedy.
Sorry, but the date of this article is December 22, 2006. When I saw it this past December, I was shocked to see how ill Wayne looked. I thought for a moment that maybe the photograph's color was bad, but then I looked at Helen in the photo, and she looked just fine, other than totally focused on Wayne. This was the photo that told me that Wayne was very ill.
thanks for the ping.
My prayers to the family of this great man.