Case 2:98-cv-00531-LRH-VCF Document 61 Filed 11/14/17 Page 1 – 17

Case 2-98-cv-00531-LRH-VCF Document 61 Filed 11:14:17 Page 1 - 17

livestock are entitled to graze such livestock for free. Specifically, the Taylor Grazing Act, 43

U.S.C. §315(d) provides that:


The Secretary of the Interior shall

permit, under regulations to be

prescribed by him, the free grazing

within such districts of livestock

kept for domestic purposes.

C.F.R. §4130.5 provides further details:

A free-use grazing permit shall

be issued to any applicant whose

residence is adjacent to public lands

within grazing districts and who

needs these public lands to support

those domestic livestock owned by

the applicant.

Id. (emphasis added).

Thus, even as the United States was suing and representing to courts that Bundy must

pay the federal government for grazing, its agents were well aware that Bundy qualified for

free grazing of livestock in the district, under federal statutes.

The Ninth Circuit’s decision in United States v. Wharton, 514 F.2d 406 (1975) is

directly on point. Where a descendant of a person who had originally settled on public land

approached government officials to determine what his family could do to gain title to land

and those government officials misrepresented that there was no way to gain title (at a time

when it was still possible to gain title by filing a new desert-entry application), estoppel

would be applied against the United States. This was true even though the rancher acted in

bad faith or otherwise imperfectly. Id.

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