|Well-wishers bid farewell
June 16, 2006
By Mark Waite
Pahrump Valley Times
2160 East Calvada Boulevard
Pahrump, Nevada 89048
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About 300 ranchers and other well-wishers converged on the Pine Creek
Ranch for the funeral of Wayne Hage Saturday, to pay respects to the
humble man eulogized as a hero in the fight for property rights in the
Hage, 68, died at the ranch June 5, after a bout with cancer.
People came from hundreds of miles to pay their respects, and
conversations about cattle and rainfall were intermingled with talk
about topics like resource management plans by the federal government
and elk overgrazing.
Signs on the fence read: "Has the West Been Won or Has the Fight
Just Begun!" Another sign read: "Save the Stockmen from BLM
and Forest Service."
John Johnson said he drove all night from his ranch east of Payson,
"He was a modern-day John Wayne. He had a lot of answers for a lot
of questions ranchers had. He spearheaded the fight for our rights on
forest service allotments," Johnson said. "He's one of the
last of the real patriots."
Clark said she has been involved in Hage's case against the U.S. Forest
Service since he filed it in 1991.
"I had five kids and I had to spend pennies out of my
pockets," she said. "We were dealing with the Forest Service
with our hunting business when we heard about this. We wanted to learn
all we could about the case."
Former Elko County Commissioner Tony Lesperance, now living in Paradise
Valley, said he's part of a group that's continuing the lawsuit.
The U.S. Court of Federal Claims in San Francisco in 2002 ruled Hage had
vested water rights. The next stage, which Hage didn't live to realize,
was the compensation he would receive through the federal court system.
C.J. Hadley, publisher of Range magazine, eulogized Hage as the David
vs. the federal bureaucracy Goliath.
"Wayne grew up with ranching. And for 68 years he was adored,
tolerated, despised, admired and feared," she said.
Hage, wrote in 2002: "I paid for and own the surface water, ground
water and grazing rights on my allotments. In the arid expanses of the
West it takes a lot of acres to feed a cow and water is as precious as
gold. Without those water and grazing rights, my family's ranch and all
others like it will cease to exist.
"For many years now, federal agencies and their environmental
allies have been pretending that these genuine property rights are
nonexistent ... This represents a major assault on the very concept of
Hage, author of the book "Storm Over Rangelands," said
property was being seized by the government under the guise of
protecting endangered species, habitat, wild rivers, old timber, clean
water, clean air and "other frauds."
In conclusion, Hadley, choking back tears, said, "Wayne Hage is the
only one who could have done it, or would have tried."
His son, also named Wayne Hage, said, "It's very fitting the body
laid on the land he fought for."
"He was a meek man, not a weak man," Pastor Ken Wilde said.
"In our culture today, we don't have many heroes. Wayne was a real
Copyright 2006, Pahrump Valley Times.