CARSON CITY — A Nevada rancher who has fought the federal government for more than a decade over grazing and property rights has settled a civil lawsuit with the Justice Department over livestock trespass, the government announced Wednesday.
The stipulation filed in U.S. District Court in Reno ends the government’s case against Goldfield rancher Ben Colvin.
John C. Cruden, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, said the agreement partially resolves “many years of disputes and litigation” over unauthorized grazing on federal lands in Nevada.
Colvin’s lawyer, Jonathan Hansen, was out of town and unavailable for comment, according to his office.
In 2007, the government sued Colvin, the estate of late Nevada rancher Wayne Hage and Hage’s son, claiming they repeatedly defied federal land managers by grazing cattle without permits on land overseen by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service.
Wayne Hage came to epitomize Nevada’s Sagebrush Rebellion, a movement that gained momentum in the 1960s and ’70s to retake control of federally owned public lands. He died in 2006 at age 69.
The lawsuit further alleged the Hages unlawfully “leased” lands owned by the government to other ranchers for livestock grazing.
Under the agreement announced Wednesday, Colvin paid a $34,000 fine and agreed to comply with federal grazing regulations in the future. It also requires him to remove unauthorized improvements he made on the public lands, such as above-ground water pipelines, water tanks and corrals.
Once those conditions are met, he can reapply for grazing permits, the government said in a written statement.
The settlement only pertains to Colvin.