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By Michael S. Coffman, Ph.D
July 19, 2014

Part VI—Environmental Extremism, and the Hage Victory

After creating the feudal/manorialism control over vast tracts of “public land” in the far West, a radical and bizarre form of environmentalism crept into natural resource colleges in the 1970s. By the 1980s our federal agencies began hiring these graduates and by the 1990s they were in mid- and senior management positions. Government bureaucracies were now poisoned with this radical environmental ideology.

Following the creation of the US Forest Service (USFS)in 1905 and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in 1934, there has been an increasingly uneasy working relationship between citizens who make a living from the public land to produce our food, and the federal employees managing it. That relationship took a nosedive with the passage of the Federal Land Policy and Management (FLPMA) and the National Forest Management Acts (NFMA) in 1976.

Conservation Biology

Both Acts were pushed through Congress with enormous pressure by environmental groups, again funded by the decedents of the northern core. The Acts were heavily biased towards endless planning that has turned into a money pit sucking enormous amounts of taxpayer dollars to achieve environmental goals that are not necessary or are based in ideological pseudo science. Since then both agencies have had their personnel increasingly staffed with college grads steeped in environmental dogma that nature knows best and man is a cancer to the earth (For more information, see here, here and here). It’s called conservation biology. In its first journal issue the purpose for existence of the Society of Conservation Biology was explicitly stated:

“The society is a the biological diversity crisis that will reach a crescendo in the first half of the 21st century. We assume implicitly that...the worst biological disaster in the last 65 million years can be averted.... We assume implicitly that environmental wounds inflicted by ignorant humans and destructive technologies can be treated by wiser humans and by wholesome technologies.”

This over the top arrogance is typical for diehard conservation biologists, many of them in our federal and state agencies. Worse, other writings and textbooks show that there is a belief in this group of activists that they are at war with society. This is especially true with ranchers because these ideological biologists have been taught in our finest universities that ranchers are destroying ecosystems. As a consequence, ranchers, timber companies and mining companies began to be singled out for deliberate destruction. Reality anchored in peer-reviewed research, however, shows that ecosystem health can be dramatically improved with cattle grazing and forest harvesting; even the much maligned clear cutting. As a Ph.D. in ecosystem analysis and management, this author is stunned at the blatant pseudo science and outright lies that are used to support this war against natural resource management.

For the first ten years or so, these newly minted conservation biologists were the low men and women on the totem pole in government agencies like the BLM. They had very little power to implement their extremely radical ideas. Outside observers were amazed at how quickly they were promoted into mid- then high-level positions. Many said it couldn’t be a coincidence. The increasing tyrannical nature being experienced by Bundy and other ranchers by the USFS and BLM is born in the extreme conservation biology movement, which is a very radical, even extreme, offshoot of environmentalism.

[Armed BLM storm troopers are not atypical. Ideological BLM personnel are noted for extreme reactions to perceived disobedience by ranchers (once officially called “biological resources.” Just as the militias and supporters of Bundy were very calm and disciplined compared to the BLM storm troopers, this rancher in 2002 kept his cool when the BLM agent was appeared about to shoot him in 2002. It is imperative that citizens remain calm when federal bureaucrats try to provoke them by so they have a reason to respond with force.

BLM hotheads actually did Taser some of the Bundy family without cause. Nowhere in the U.S. Constitution and the laws of Congress does federal agency personnel have enforcement rights, let alone carry arms to use against citizens, except in very specific instances. Section 701 (b) of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 specifically forbids it. These agencies have just assumed this authority out of thin air. Source: Liberty Scene. © Jean Voigts 2002.]

It is literally quite bizarre. By 1994 a BLM internal working document prepared for a March 30 BLM summit on ecosystem management identified the objective/purpose of eco¬system management: "All ecosystem management activities should consider human beings as a biological resource..." Human beings are an biological resource? It’s absolutely sick. While shocking, it was a long time ago. Yet, how could it have even been written in the first place? The BLM is still implementing Ecosystem Management. The arrogance of the BLM, its relentless drive to destroy ranchers and resource users, and the raw use of overwhelming intimidation and force certainly suggests that in practice, the BLM is carrying out that goal.

Certainly at least some BLM personnel have been radicalized and are doing all it can to push people, especially ranchers, off of the public lands. Ask any ranching family in the West that actually has to make a living off the land. This accusation is unanimous. This is what Cliven Bundy is facing.

The seeming hatred for many BLM personnel for the ranchers automatically creates a deep adversarial relationship between the BLM and ranchers. That is only half the problem, however. The other half is the armed brute force the BLM (and Forest Service) uses to intimidate ranchers. As discussed in Part I, no federal agency has constitutional authority to administer police powers at the local level. Therefore the U.S. Federal Code does not allow it. 43 §1733(c)(1) specifically states:

When the Secretary determines that assistance is necessary in enforcing Federal laws and regulations relating to the public lands or their resources he shall offer a contract to appropriate local officials having law enforcement authority within their respective jurisdictions with the view of achieving maximum feasible reliance upon local law enforcement officials in enforcing such laws and regulations. (Emphasis added)

So where did the BLM (and every other federal agency) get the authority to arm 200 BLM jackboots and send them to intimidate and steal Bundy’s cattle? The answer is simple. They did it illegally. While that is hard to believe, these federal agencies have been gradually assuming unconstitutional powers since the 1990s so that today the media and most Americans assume they do have the constitutional authority to do to Bundy (and many more hapless victims) what they did. All they need is some kind of excuse to bring their boot down on the neck of a citizen.

In Bundy’s case the allegedly endangered Desert Tortoise is the chosen weapon to force him off the land, as was already done to the 57 neighboring ranches. Pseudo science and extreme environmentalist pressure was used to get the tortoise listed as endangered, and then implement “recovery plans” to continuously reduce the number of cattle that can graze the land while increasing fees, gradually strangling the ranchers until they were forced off their land.

The Desert Tortoise

While some good science comes out of conservation biology, usually this nature-based pseudo science usually gets everything backwards and turned inside out. According to their pantheistic ideology,[1] everything that man does is bad and has to be stopped. Like minded radical environmentalists in environmental groups lobby extremely hard to get an alleged endangered species put on the Endangered Species list. Once listed, draconian regulations can be implemented on property owners or lease holders, especially ranchers like Cliven Bundy where these species reside. There are literally dozens of alleged endangered species in name only that the BLM and USFS can use to hammer ranchers and users. In Bundy’s case every one of the 57 other cattle ranches in his county has been put out of business by the BLM using these and other strong-arm tactics.

[The Desert Tortoise is supposedly endangered because of overgrazing by cattle. That is a red herring. The tortoise thrives on cattle dung. The greater the number of cattle the greater the number of tortoises. Source: US Army Topographic Engineering Center]

For 40 years government report after government report blamed cattle for the decline of the Desert Tortoise. This is what Cliven Bundy and other ranchers have faced for decades. Yet, even before the Desert Tortoise was declared endangered, a major research study in 1990 clearly showed that Desert Tortoises actually flourish with cattle. The more cattle, the more tortoises. In the 1930s, before the 1933 drought hit, there were a record number of cattle grazing in Southern Nevada and Southeastern California. The Desert Tortoise was also at record numbers– at least 2,000 tortoises per square mile in Antelope Valley CA. Today, the BLM has forced ranchers to reduce their herds to 10 percent of what used to be on the rangeland. The result? The Desert Tortoise population has also plummeted; allegedly because of overgrazing according to the BLM. Not true. The 1990 research describes what is really going on:

The toothless tortoise is ill equipped to harvest and masticate range forage. The tortoise can harvest only tender vegetation, and it can't masticate even that. The tortoise can't process enough bulky, low analysis forage fast enough to meet its nutritional requirement… They solved this problem long ago—they allow other animals to do it for them. Desert tortoises feed primarily on dung. The more animals using the range, the more dung, which makes more food available for tortoises... The desert tortoise is well adapted for making use of cow dung.

Amazingly, the federal government does not even mention the tortoise’s diet of dung. Probably because it is not “natural” and destroys the narrative that cattle are responsible for the decline of tortoises. There was and is no empirical science to justify putting the Desert Tortoise on the Endangered Species list. It was purely political; based in bizarre pseudo science that is extremely destructive to the lives, liberties and happiness of thousands of property owners. Cliven Bundy is but one example. Wayne Hage is another.

The Wayne Hage Saga

As explained in Part II, Constitutional law is no longer taught in law schools. Attorneys are taught to use the U.S. District Court for federal administrative law used by the BLM and USFS. Because the District Court focuses on case law, not Constitutional law, the corrupted law is stacked against the landowner like Cliven Bundy.

Within a short time of buying the ranch in 1978, the U.S. Forest Service filed claim to the Hage’s water rights, fenced off critical springs, and eventually cancelled their grazing permits. The harassment and permit violations were unbelievable. Margaret Byfield (Hage), one of Hage’s daughters recounts:

They fenced off a major spring from our cattle and piped our water into their ranger station without our permission. In 1979, over a period of 105 days, we received 70 visits and 40 certified letters from the Forest Service citing us with various violations, most of which did not exist or were created by the Forest Service itself. I remember how one of these accused us of not maintaining our drift fences on Table Mountain. After two days riding the fence [by horse], one of our hands found the Forest Service flag marking a single missing staple. We were also charged with trespass citations where they claimed our cattle were in locations not permitted. They dropped these charges once they realized we had eyewitnesses watch Forest Service employees move our cattle into these areas, and then within hours notify us of the alleged offense. (Italics added)

By 1991 Hage was out of business. While Hage was rounding up his last cattle to sell, the USFS “brought in over 30 armed riders and gathered every cow they could find, which only amounted to 104 after two earlier roundups. Half the riders were armed with semi-automatic rifles and wearing bulletproof vests.” Recounts Byfield: “when finished handed my father a bill for their confiscation expense.” The Gestapo tactics the USFS and BLM are doing to ranchers is well beyond belief for most Americans. It’s not an exaggeration. It is actually worse. The same types of attacks were suffered by Cliven Bundy and other ranchers for twenty years. All but Bundy were forced off their ranches rather than suffer this abuse.

Hage, however, had the chain of title to his water rights (vested rights) back to 1866 and 1874. Not surprisingly, the federal government had none. They couldn’t because the 1907 Colorado v. Kansas Supreme Court decision struck down any Forest Service right to water. Although unverified, it is reported Bundy has the same chain of title back to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo which guarantees all property rights stay with the land owner and future owners.

Once the USFS took Hage’s cattle, killing at least one cow in the process, he had legal standing to go to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (Claims Court) with a constitutional “takings” case based on the Fifth Amendment: “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” (Italics added) The Court of Federal Claims is authorized to hear primarily money claims founded upon violations of the Constitution, federal statutes, executive regulations, or contracts, express or implied in fact, with the United States.

Hage filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims as The Estate of E. Wayne Hage and the Estate of Jean N. Hage in 1992. During the next ten years the USFS filed numerous lawsuits against Hage, one of which was a felony charge. Only a few of them were found in favor of the USFS, and even those were reversed by the 9th Circuit Court on appeal.

In2002 that the Claims Court issued the first truly landmark ruling in the case. The Court determined that despite the government’s argument that the Hage’s had no property rights in the federal lands, the Court found they owned the water on the federal lands that flowed to their private lands, they owned the ditch rights-of-way that transported that water (and 50 feet on either side), and the range improvements.

One of the most important findings of the Court’s decision was that property rights owned by Hage were pre-existing to the permit system by the Act of 1866 and "the court is not of the opinion that lack of a grazing permit that prevents access to federal lands can eliminate Plaintiff's vested water rights and ditch rights." The favorite tool of the USFS and BLM was forcing the livestock off the ranch and then claiming the water rights when ranchers no longer could use and they expired.The decision had a chilling effect on the federal agencies. These were vested rights, just as Bundy is claiming.

As discussed in Parts II and III, vested rights had been passed in Congress as the Act of 1866 creating the “split estate” concept to handle these rights as granted by the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo with Mexico. In 2008, after issuing four opinions, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims finalized the 2002 preliminary ruling. Hage was granted $14.4 million in the settlement. The circuit judge, Loren Smith,in his ruling on the Hage case, likened federal ownership in the West as“feudal overlords.”As discussed in Part I, it is the very same landlord relationship that caused families to flee Europe to America from their “feudal overlords that owned the land they farmed.”

Feudalism is by its very definition a tyrannical system because the overlord, in this case the federal government, has control over the very land a family depends on for their day to day existence. In this case the overlord is being driven by ideology and enormous outside pressure to destroy the ranchers.

In one of the few losses in the case, the award of $14.4 million in compensation for the taking of the Hage’s water, rights-of-way and range improvements was reversed on a technicality by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in 2012. Now it appears that the United States Court of Federal Claims will not be granting the Plaintiffs a hearing to allow them to argue that only parts of the compensation claim were reversed.Once again, a federal agency gets off scot free from any accountability for their wrong doing. Well, almost. Fortunately, the ruling on property rights still stands, however.

Once that was accomplished, the case went back to District Court in U.S. v. Estate of E. Wayne Hage which now had a case law precedent. As explained in a Heritage Foundation summary, Judge Robert C. Jones on May 23 last year tells in his 104-page opinion the sordid and infuriating tale of a two-decades-long conspiracy among federal employees of US Forest Service in the Department of Agriculture and 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. In summary Jones’ used some ripping language in his decision:

“[T]he Government’s actions over the past two decades shocks the conscience of the Court.” The judge concluded that the government denied the renewal of the Hages’ grazing permit for a “nonsensical” reason that was “arbitrary” and “vindictive.” The employees of the BLM “entered into a literal, intentional conspiracy to deprive the Hages not only of their permits but also of their vested water rights.” The court held that the government had abused its discretion “through a series of actions designed to strip the Estate of its grazing permits, and ultimately to strip Defendants of their ability to use their water rights, for reasons unrelated to the appropriate use of the range or ensuring that historical grazing use is respected.”

Judge Jones issued an injunction against the federal government interfering with the Hage family’s water rights and ordered it to grant a grazing permit in accordance with the “historical usages and preferences” in that area of Nevada. The judge said he was restricting the government’s “normal discretion” in “this extreme case because of the conspiracy…and the obvious continuing animus against Hage by” government officials. Two government employees were held in contempt by the judge for sending trespass notices to people who leased or sold cattle to the Hages in order to “pressure other parties not to do business with the Hages, and even to discourage or punish testimony in the” case. The judge referred them to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for “potential prosecution for obstruction of justice.”

Except for minor variations, this is exactly what has happened to Bundy. However, the Hage’s 2013 case had just been decided in May when Bundy’s last District Court case was decided in July. Since all testimony had been given in the Bundy trial, the judge in Bundy’s case couldn’t use the Hage ruling as case law. However, he could have used the Court of Federal Claims decision but didn’t, partially because the feds appealed it on technical grounds, which may have given Bundy’s U.S. District Court judge an excuse. Hage’s U.S. District Court Judge did use it.

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The state’s rights issue in which the 1891 Forest Reserve Act superseded the U.S. Constitution is still rift with controversy. The states hated it, but the consequences were very small then, so they didn’t fight it. Obviously, that has changed now and feeble attempts have been made to challenge it. However, most states are so full of progressive Attorney Generals and politicians who agree with the principle of federal sovereignty that there is no desire to fight it. Fortunately, that is not the case with Utah.The state of Utah is now in a battle to overturn this unconstitutional precedent and get all the so-called federal lands back to the state. It will take years, but the time might be finally ripe.

Ranchers like Bundy have been fighting for their very livelihoods against the federal government for well over a hundred years. While it may “seem” to the average person like the federal government has the authority and is trying to do the right thing, it is not. Instead, it is a feudal arrangement that was forbidden in the U.S. Constitution by the Founders because they saw European examples that it always led to tyranny. Now there is an international agenda doing the same thing and it has already had devastating effects on every American citizen.

Click here for part -----> 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,

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Dr. Coffman is President of Environmental Perspectives Incorporated ( and CEO of Sovereignty International ( in Bangor Maine. He has had over 40 years of university teaching, research and consulting experience in forestry and environmental sciences and now geopolitics. He was one of four who stopped the ratification of the Convention on Biological Diversity one hour before the Senate cloture vote. The Biodiversity Treaty is one of the major treaties promoted by Agenda 21. He produced the acclaimed DVD Global Warming or Global Governance ( disproving man-caused global warming—another major theme of Agenda 21.

Dr. Coffman’s book, Plundered, How Progressive Ideology is Destroying America ( details how the American people are being indoctrinated and bullied into a very destructive belief system called progressivism in the same manner described in this article. His and co-Author Kate Mathieson’s newest book, Radical Islam, The Plan to Take America for the Global Islamic State, provides shocking evidence of how there is no such thing as a moderate Muslim, and how by political correctness is blinding Americans to the real danger that the Obama administration is putting the U.S. in by putting Islamists in high administrative positions and to define U.S. policy. Equally shocking is the comparison of the Bible and Qur’an. It’s a wake-up call to America. He can be reached at 207-945-9878.





In other words, the federal government has no sovereign right to the water in the West. It was declared unconstitutional. Also, the land belonging to the national government within the states is subject to the law of those states.