Real Estate & Property Law

Estate of 'Sagebrush Rebellion' Rancher Wins $8.6M in Water Rights Case

  • Print

A well-known Nevada rancher has won $8.6 million in a 17-year battle against the government over restricted grazing and water rights, two years after he died.

The estate of Wayne Hage was awarded more than $4.2 million last week by a federal judge in Washington, D.C., who found there had been a constitutional “taking” by the U.S. Forest Service. The agency had restricted his grazing rights on federal land adjacent to his 7,000-acre Pine Creek Ranch, and thus effectively restricted his water rights, according to the Associated Press. With $4.4 million in back interest dating to 1991, when Hage filed suit, that adds up to about $8.6 million.

However, the award by Court of Federal Claims Judge Loren Smith was a pyrrhic victory, writes the Las Vegas Review in an editorial.

Hage died in 2006, and the award is considerably less than the $28 million he sought in 1991, the newspaper notes.

Earlier coverage:

High Country News (1995): “Nevada’s ugly tug-of war: A visit to the heart of the Sagebrush Rebellion”

New York Times (2006): “Wayne Hage, 69, Rancher Who Won Land Rights Case, Is Dead”

Elko Daily Free Press (2006): “Wayne Hage, rancher and sagebrush rebel, dies”

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.