The author is a writer, editor, and muckraker for Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, a group that advocates for sustainable use of public lands.
You’ve probably heard about Cliven Bundy. He’s the Nevada rancher who in April led a ragtag bunch of self-styled militiamen in fending off federal agents who tried to confiscate his cows for grazing on public lands without permits.
Well, there’s a case making its way through the courts now that could make the Bundy standoff look like child’s play.
The case involves another Nevada rancher, Wayne Hage, who grazes cows on public land without permits – just as his father (also Wayne Hage) did before his death in 2006. In 2007, federal land managers charged Hage Jr. with trespass. But last year, U.S. District Judge Robert C. Jones sided with Hage, finding that the government had trampled the rancher’s rights — particularly his right to utilize water sources on federal land.
Here’s the detail that makes the case a potentially Really Big Deal: Jones ruled that as long as Hage’s cows were within half a mile of one of his valid water rights, the rancher couldn’t be charged with trespass — e... Read more