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State v. Morros

Supreme Court of Nevada
766 P.2d 263 (1988)


Facts

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) (defendant) managed federal land surrounding the Blue Lake in Nevada. The BLM and the United States Forest Service (USFS) (defendant) submitted permit applications to Nevada State Engineer Peter Morros (state engineer) (defendant) for the provision of water to livestock and wildlife located on the land. The state engineer granted the permits. Various state entities (plaintiffs) sought review of the state engineer’s decision in federal district court, arguing that federal ownership of water rights was against the public interest because the water would not be available for other uses at a later date. The district court reversed the state engineer’s grant of permits, finding that the BLM and the USFS did not own the livestock or wildlife. The district court based its decision on Prosole v. Steamboat Canal Co., 140 P. 720 (1914), in which the Supreme Court of Nevada held that a party who applied water to the soil for a beneficial purpose was the actual appropriator and owner of the water right, even if another party diverted the water from its natural course. The plaintiffs appealed, and the state engineer cross-appealed along with the BLM, the USFS, and other entities.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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