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Light v. United States

United States Supreme Court
220 U.S. 523 (1911)


Fred Light (defendant) allowed his cattle to graze on the Holy Cross Forest Reserve, a federally owned, unenclosed area located in the State of Colorado. Light refused to remove his cattle when requested. The basis for Light’s refusal was that a Colorado statute prevented property owners from recovering damages for animal trespass if the property was unenclosed by a fence of a designated size and material. Light was enjoined from allowing his cattle to graze on the reserve, on the basis that he had failed to comply with the agriculture secretary’s regulations governing forest use, occupancy, and preservation. The United States Supreme Court reviewed the case. Light claimed that (1) the federal government had no remedy at law or in equity, unless it placed a fence around the reserve; (2) Light had the right to allow his cattle to graze on open public land; and (3) the reserve was subject to an implied license for grazing purposes, because a federal statute that allowed the establishment of land reservations was void.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Lamar, J.)

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