Hageman honored with Hall of Fame
In her nomination for the 2011 Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame, Harriet Hageman’s list of accomplishments on behalf of agriculture include such notable court cases as Nebraska v. Wyoming, State of Wyoming v. USDA and USES and Anderson v. Two Dot Ranch.
Hageman was born the fifth of six biological children to Jim and Marion Hageman of Fort Laramie, where she spent her childhood and adolescence working with her family on their ranch. During high school she was active in FFA, and following graduation she attended Casper College on a livestock judging scholarship. Following her time there, she attended UW, receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1986 and a law degree in 1989.
Despite her extensive ag background growing up, Hageman didn’t start out her career as an ag attorney working on ag issues.
“I started out working in litigation only for a firm in Michigan, and then in Denver, Colo.,” says Hagemn. “My first opportunity to work for the ag industry came in 1997 when I was hired to work on Nebraska v. Wyoming.”
Since then, Hageman has been the lead attorney for the state of Wyoming in protecting its share of the North Platte River, and she also fought the USDA to protect Wyoming’s access to national forest lands during the Roadless Lawsuit, which resulted in a nationwide injunction. She has also successfully defended Wyoming’s Open Range Law before the Wyoming Supreme Court, in addition to representing numerous ranchers, irrigation districts and grazing permittees.
It’s her tenacity in protecting both Wyoming and U.S. agriculture that has earned her a place in the Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame.
“I’ve had a varied practice over time, but I’ve been very fortunate to come back to Wyoming and be able to work in the agriculture industry from a legal standpoint,” says Hageman of her experience.
Of that first agricultural case, Hageman says, “I enjoyed Nebraska v. Wyoming – it was a fascinating and very important case for Wyoming’s water rights, irrigators, municipalities and water users.”
She also mentions the Roadless Lawsuit as a high point, saying, “We were fighting back against the Clinton roadless rules to ensure we have multiple use of forest lands, including the purposes of grazing and grazing permits, and making sure we can manage and use our resources.”
Of all the cases she’s worked on, she says the most important is the lawsuit over the management of wolves, and the Fish and Wildlife Service’s refusal to properly assess and evaluate Wyoming’s wolf management plan.
“After working with her on a daily basis for more than 14 years, I can affirmatively state that no one works harder or cares more for Wyoming agriculture,” says Kara Brighton, who partners with Hageman in the Hageman and Brighton Law Office in Cheyenne, which began in August 2000.
“I consider Harriet a true role model for young people in agriculture,” says UW graduate Stacia Berry. “She helped me to realize that someone has to fight agriculture’s fight for land, water and other natural resources that can be easily stripped away. She is a zealous advocate for producer and landowner’s rights; she works incredibly hard to protect them. Watching her in action is a privilege and an inspiration.”
“Role models like Harriet are rare. Her work did not put agriculture on the map – it is more important, because right now she is keeping agriculture on the map,” continues Berry.
“Harriet’s love and commitment to Wyoming water rights, private property and protecting open range is honorable,” say Rick and Klodette Stroh of Stroh Farms. “Harriet utilizes her God-given common sense, and has prevailed at protecting people’s rights.”
Wyoming State Engineer Pat Tyrrell says he’s watched Hageman’s tireless work on behalf of Wyoming agriculture for the last two decades.
“Whether the issue be wolves, roads, federal land management or water rights, she is there fighting for the rights of the agriculture community,” says Tyrrell. “Harriet comes at her passion not from the position of an attorney with particular talents in an area she exploits to make a good living – rather, her focused energy comes from her very real love of agriculture, having grown up in the business, and her fervent desire to protect a way of life that, at times, seems attacked from every corner.”
Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation Executive Vice President Ken Hamilton says, “We are fortunate that we have someone who has the agriculture background and the legal tenacity to take on some of these problems with which we’re presented in the ag community.”
“Natural resource management is as much a part of today’s agriculture industry as animals science, noxious weed control or agricultural economics,” says UW College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Dean Frank Galey. “A graduate of the University of Wyoming College of Law, Harriet Hageman has been actively involved in water and natural resource legal issues affecting the agriculture industry for more than 15 years.”
Hageman’s parents, Jim and Marion Hageman, were inducted into the Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame in 2001, and Galey says that, like her father, Harriet is committed to education and is always willing to share her knowledge with producers, students and the public. A few of her educational efforts include The ABCs of Water, Wyoming Water Law 101 for Landowners, the Wyoming Association of Rural Water Systems and small acreage workshops.
In 2004, Hageman and Brighton formed the Wyoming Conservation Alliance in effort to increase public participation at both the state and federal regulatory levels. Hageman has also delivered talks to livestock producer groups, has spoken at the Wyoming Water Commissioner’s School and has lectured at local conservation district meetings.
Looking to the future, Hageman says, “We continue to fight the federal regulatory burden – it is truly becoming unbearable, and in almost everything I do, including water resources, land use, water quality and quantity, we’re seeing an enormous federal overreach into areas traditionally managed and addressed on a state or local level. The federal regulatory burden is unbearable, and we deal with it every day.”
Hageman says she deals with many issues today that weren’t even recognized 10 years ago.
“Had people known what our federal government would become, maybe they would have fought back harder,” she states. “We continue to fight the extreme demands and burdens from D.C.”
Although she doesn’t have much time to spend on the family ranch these days, Hageman says goes home when she can.
“I’m very fortunate I found another way to stay active in the ag industry,” she notes.
Christy Martinez is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.