By James Rusk
The Court of Federal Claims this month awarded more than $4.2 million to the estate of Wayne and Jean Hage as compensation for the federal government’s taking of the Hages’ water rights and rangeland improvements. Hage v. United States, No. 91-1470L (Fed. Cl. June 6, 2008). Hage V, the latest chapter in the long-running Hage case, affirms the principle that private parties do not have a compensable property interest in federal grazing permits. But the decision nonetheless recognizes that government actions distinct from the cancellation of grazing permits may, under some circumstances, effect a Fifth Amendment taking of an individual’s vested right to water flowing from federal lands.