Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Still at home on the range....

We are of the "Out-West" variety of ranchers and that means that we're always very aware of our Situation with the federal government when it comes to land and property rights. Most of us lease federal and state lands to supplement our own land for grazing purposes. Where we live, it takes 40 acres per animal unit (cow) to feed her for an entire year due to the semi-arid conditions we live under, so we count on our government leases being there.

About 18 years ago, the Hage family bought a ranch in Nevada that came with a federal land grazing lease, water rights, and of course, property rights. But the U.S. Forest Service thought they could bully them and take those rights away. The USFS denied the Hages access to their own water rights, introduced a non-indigenous elk that became overpopulated and competed with the cattle for forage and water, and they canceled the ranch's grazing permits. (Who does the USFS answer to anyway?) After 17 years of court trials and perseverance, the Hage family has won their case. You can read about it here. This is a huge victory for those of us who make a living and manage resources in the West.

I just thought you might like to know.


  1. Wow. And how ridiculous is it that it took 17 years to settle that case. Totally ridiculous! You know, as populations grow, and for generations in the future, I can see having to worry more about something like that. Sort of like those stupid eminent domain laws that were in the news in the past several years. Good for that family that they stuck with their convictions -- just so sad that the parents weren't around to see the happy outcome. And sadly, after so many years, probably most of that money will go to lawyers.

  2. Amazing- What a story!! Seems like the lawyers should have to herd the cattle for a while!!

    kari & kijsa

  3. Wow, that is a huge victory. But how sad for the Hage family. Clarice

  4. I don't own a ranch but I've read about these issues with ranchers here in Arizona, too.


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