Op-Ed by RANGE magazine writer, Hank Vogler
Fumes From The Farm
Mark Twain said, ”The news of my death was greatly exaggerated”. The news that Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) is giving up likewise appears to be greatly exaggerated, or at the very least an oxymoron.
Why are they keeping the ranches if they are through? Since when do state agencies go into competition with private enterprises? Maybe the gaming board would like to buy the Spanish Ranch or the department of education should purchase casinos. Paying inter-generational wealth for the ranches in the first place was not a prudent thing to do with tax money when you don’t even know if you can move the water. We all know that Vegas controls the state, so rules, regulations, and laws were no obstacles. Political power was assured.
From day one the fix was in. There is nothing in the Taylor Grazing Act that allows state agencies to hold BLM permits beyond land grant colleges. So here in Nevada, UNR can hold permits for research. Period.
The solicitor general for the BLM agreed and then acting director Bob Abbey called the local BLM and demanded that SNWA be granted a permit. I believe he was told by a powerful senator from Nevada to issue those permits. This is abuse of power. The deeds to the ranches are in SNWA’s name. The forming of an LLC is not illegal but really not necessary for a state agency. Two LLC’s were formed by SNWA. I believe they were to circumvent the law. I believe that the first thing you swear to when you form an LLC in Nevada, under penalty of perjury, is you cannot hide the directors identity or form the LLC for an illegal act. What is more illegal than perjury and then fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud than lying about holding the BLM permits? They also lied to the state engineers office about applying for water rights to graze livestock on the BLM when they had no right to hold the permit in the first place. I just this day in front of a notary swore that I hold a legal right to a permit in White Pine County.
SNWA has pushed on me in an allotment that I purchased two years prior to them purchasing their first ranch in Spring Valley. I have been trying to get the paper straight for sixteen years and no one at the BLM wants to touch the issue as I have been told many times that it may be a career-ender for anyone addressing the issue. Is that abuse of power? In an allotment from another ranch purchased by SNWA, “Mt. Wilson”, range line agreements were signed in1963 by the then permit holders, ask those people what kind of neighbor SNWA is.
I asked the secretary of state for help. She gave me a hug and said “sorry”. SNWA has filed for water rights on my permit and no one must have challenged them as the state granted them vested water rights without question.
No matter how you word-smith the issue they have no business throwing more tax payer money after these ranches. And the nefarious ways they got them in the first place is appalling. As late as 2017 the solicitor general of the BLM ruled that another state agency, Nevada Department of Recreation, could not use the six permits they acquired from the “Rafter Seven and the Flying M”, on the Walker River on the other side of the state.
When your vehicles have exempt plates, you don’t pay property taxes, sales taxes, gas taxes and you have to sell things in an open market, no private treaties, you certainly by all definition are a state agency. I have said many times you can put lipstick on a pig but it is still a pig.
Wait for 2021 legislature and see if their demise was greatly exaggerated.
Hang and Rattle.
NeedMoreSheep Land & Livestock
Upper Spring Valley
White Pine County, Nevada