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Fulton v. United States

ELR Citation: 23 ELR 21583
Nos. No. CV-N-92-141-ECR, 825 F. Supp. 261/(D. Nev., 03/10/1993)

The court holds that the purchaser of a ranch lacks standing to challenge the U.S. Forest Service's decision not to renew the previous owner's grazing permit when the decision was made one year prior to the purchase of the ranch. The court holds that the purchaser did not demonstrate a personal injury. Ruling that a grazing permit is a fully revocable, nontransferable privilege, the court finds that the purchaser never held the grazing rights that the permit had conferred on the previous owner because the decision not to renew the permit occurred prior to the purchase. Moreover, although the Service generally approves the transfer of a permit from one owner to another, this does not give the purchaser a right to the permit, nor does it establish a causal connection between the denial of the previous owners' renewal application and harm caused to the purchaser. Any reliance by the purchaser on a transfer of rights in the permit from the previous owners does not entitle him to sue in their place. The court also holds that the denial of the grazing permit does not constitute a taking of the purchaser's water rights because there is no evidence that he is being denied all beneficial uses of the rights. He may still use the water for other purposes or he may sell the rights.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Julian C. Smith Jr.
502 N. Division St., Carson City NV 89703
(702) 883-3200
Karen J. Budd
1920 Thomes Ave., Ste. 320, Cheyenne WY 82003
(307) 632-5105

Counsel for Defendants
Ellen M. Athas
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000