by Steve Miller
copyright (c) 1997, Electric Nevada
|A large-scale victory by Nevada ranchers over the U.S. Forest Service may be emerging against the backdrop of the current Monitor Valley water rights struggle.|
|It will take months and perhaps even
years before final results are in, say observers.
But now that the state engineer's hearings are over, the Forest Service appears to have little chance, in the coming stages of the Monitor Valley water adjudication, of winning the control over Nevada water it has sought and claimed since the early 1980s.
Moreover, because the U.S. government is itself a party to the current adjudication, say these observers, major federal agencies like the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management will, in the future, no longer be able to ignore Nevada water law.
For many Nevada ranchers -- often beset by federal land agencies seeking to control water rights that, under Nevada law, belong not to them but to the ranchers -- this could mean major relief.
And there's a second reason why the current adjudication could ultimately force a broad shift in policy by the federal land agencies---not only in Nevada but throughout the western U.S.
If Nevada courts ultimately hold, as expected, that the water rights at issue
in the Monitor Valley
adjudication are the property of Nye County's Pine Creek
and R.O. ranches, such rulings will have a major impact
on takings cases the two ranches now have before the U.S.
Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C.
to 'shake the tree'
until the resources--- water, forage, etc. -- of already
economically-hard- pressed ranchers, under the additional
pressure, fall into the agencies' grasp.
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