A startling decision on government wrongdoing by a federal court in U.S. v. Estate of E. Wayne Hage gives credence to those who say that the federal government is engaging in a “war on the West” that is hurting rural communities. It is a stark reminder of how powerful our federal government is today and how it can ruin the lives and businesses of American citizens.
The 104-page opinion by U.S. District Court Judge Robert C. Jones on May 23 in Nevada tells a sordid and infuriating tale of a two-decades-long conspiracy among federal employees of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) of the Department of the Interior to deny the grazing rights of a Nevada ranching family, interfere with their water rights, and destroy their cattle business by scaring away their customers.
The case has long, complicated procedural history, but in essence, the federal government in 1991 refused to renew a grazing permit that the Hage ranch had held on federal lands for a very long time. The government also interfered with the Hage family’s water rights, which pre-dated the implementation of the grazing permit system in 1934, by restricting their access to various streams and wells. The BLM seized the Hages’ cattle and filed a civil trespass action against Hage, at one point even building fences around waterways to keep thirsty cattle from getting water, a scene right out of a 1930s Western movie.
h/t to Dave G