Dead Nevada rancher wins property rights award

After a long battle the late Wayne Hage has won in the U.S. Court of Claims. Judge Loren A. Smith awarded $4.2 million to Hage’s estate. The defendant was the U.S. Forest Service.

Rancher Hage was a “sagebrush rebel” with a ranch in a remote Nevada Valley. He eventually married Helen Chenoweth, a controversial far right-wing Idaho congresswoman. Chenoweth-Hage was killed in an auto accident not long after Hage died.

The case was a high priority for right wing property rights advocates. I haven’t heard much of an analysis from conservationists as to what the decision really means. I do think it makes it more necessary, and could add momentum, to the proposal to have a voluntary paid retirement of the grazing leases on U.S. public lands — the national grazing buyout.

Hage had a grazing lease to 700,000 acres of your public land on the basis of his 7000 acres of private property. The Forest Service confiscated his cattle after repeated tresspass and bad management. The judge did not rule in Hage’s favor by saying that a grazing lease is a property right. The case revolved the meaning of the 1866 Ditch Act and property rights in water.

Nevada rancher wins property rights award. Forest Service took his water rights, judge says. LA Times from Associated Press.



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  1. james rhines Avatar
    james rhines

    It was my pleasure to know mr hage and his family. He was and still is a great man, i just wish there were more people like mr hage that would stand up for what they believe in. I think it has made me a better person to have known mr hage and his family. so to the us government watch what you do cause there are people that will stand and fight for there rights.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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