Gage Hart Zobell

Gage Hart Zobell

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Languages Spoken

Spanish (conversational)

Representative Matters

  • MINING INDUSTRY
  • Assisted international mining company in divesting of historic mining property by transferring over 3 billion gallons of water to a Trout Unlimited for in-stream use and protection of the local fisheries.
  • Negotiated and drafted USFS and FLPMA easements
  • reciprocal access agreements
  • and operation and maintenance agreements with the United States Forest Service on roads and trails that provide access to mining property.
  • Work with international mining company to transfer their water quality reclamation bond it purchasers of the property.
  • Drafted and negotiated the conservation easement on historic mining property being divested.
  • Researched and drafted water title report on water supply for future mine being developed in Montana.
  • Assisted in the condemnation and defense of rights of access to large silver mine being developed.
  • Performed mineral title due diligence for acquisition of a nine-figure hard rock mining property in Wyoming.
  • Provided legal counsel as part of a litigation team for a multi-million dollar condemnation suit brought in furtherance of developing a mining property in Montana.
  • Conducted due diligence and drafted water schedules and reports on water supply and usage for mining clients on acquisition of nine-figure hard rock mining property in the Rocky Mountain region.
  • Counseled mining client on the development of municipal and mining water rights while utilizing tools such as water leasing and in-stream flows to protect the client’s water rights from any potential claim of abandonment.
  • OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY
  • Drafted the PSA for a water marketing permit out of the Missouri River for oil/gas company and shepherded the transfer through the state agencies.
  • Assisted oil/gas company in the buying and permitting of a Class II SWD well.
  • Drafted DOTO and DDOTO for lands throughout the Williston Basin and Wyoming.
  • Represented oil/gas client before the IBLA regarding BLM refusal to refund bonus payment for partially cancelled lease.
  • AGRICULTURAL INDUSTRY
  • Defended Eastern Montana ranch in a Montana DNRC objection hearing that resulted in victory that ensured continued water use to over 2000 acres of pivoted corn.
  • Assisted numerous Montana agricultural users through the adjudication process by filing and objecting on various water rights.
  • Successfully defended a ranch from a DNRC initiated action in Water Court to limit the water usage and reduce the allowed irrigated acreage from 1600 acres to 600 acres.
  • Worked with agricultural users on applying for a Montana 310 stream disturbance permit and defending emergency 310 actions.
  • Advised and assisted a Nevada client in collateralizing excess water rights for financing of future infrastructure by conducting a title review and generating a water title report and later providing legal opinions to financing institutions on the validity of the water rights.
  • Performed water rights due diligence and counseled client on water right validity on recent ranch acquisition of over one hundred thousand (100000) acres with over sixty thousand (60000) AFA of surface and groundwater rights.
  • Drafted agricultural leases for ranch and farming properties throughout Montana while providing counsel and legal advice to local ranchers and farmers.
  • Represented both local and out-of-state landowners establishing implied and prescriptive easements on landlocked property.
  • Represented ranching clients and small vacation property owners in defending encroachments through quiet title actions.
  • Negotiated agreement with state agency defending client’s secondary ditch easement and establishing client’s right to access state lands for ditch maintenance.
  • Drafted mineral title report for seven-figure ranch purchase of over 3000 acres and initiated quiet title action on behalf of client resolving cloud on title.

Gage is in the Billings office and is part of the Energy & Minerals Projects & Transactions group. He serves the mining, oil and gas, and agricultural industries by practicing in multiple areas of water, environmental, natural resource, public access, real estate, and federal Indian law.

A large portion of his practice is assisting clients in water transactions including permitting, buying/selling, and transferring water rights in Montana and Nevada for clients ranging from resort developers and mining corporations to ranchers and oil and gas companies. He regularly defends water rights from enforcement actions and adjudications before the respective water courts and state agencies. Gage also works closely with the mining industry to assist in the permitting, development, maintenance, and remediation of their properties on issues ranging from water quality and water supply to negotiating rights of access and various other real property issues. Additionally, he is experienced in drafting agricultural leases, purchase and sale agreements, condemning and defending easements, conducting quiet title actions, and assisting in the buying and selling of agricultural properties.

Gage is an active member of the Montana Mining Association, the United Property Owners of Montana, and the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation where he has presented and been published. He is a member of the American Exploration and Mining Association where he sits on the Environmental, Public Lands, and Mining committees.

Gage earned his bachelor’s degree in economics, magna cum laude, 2nd in class, from BYU-Idaho in 2011. He attended BYU’s J. Reuben Clark School of Law and graduated with his J.D. in 2014, magna cum laude, Order of the Coif, Phi Kappa Phi. While in school he clerked for the Honorable Judge Dale A. Kimball, U.S. District Court of Utah. He was born in Dillon, Montana and raised on his family’s cattle ranch in the nearby Big Hole Valley. He is passionate about ranching and maintains a small herd of cattle in West Montana.

Practice Areas

    • Energy & Minerals Projects & Transactions
    • Mining – Hard Rock, Coal and Other Minerals
    • Oil and Gas
    • Pipelines, Transmission Lines and Other Linear Facilities
    • Power Plants, Hydro Facilities, Refineries and Other Industrial Facilities
    • Mergers & Acquisitions
    • Renewable Energy
    • Permitting and Environmental
    • Title and Real Estate Related Matters
    • Environmental Law
    • Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and State Equivalents
    • Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and Solid or Hazardous Waste
    • Eminent Domain
    • Environmental Due Diligence
    • National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and State Equivalents
    • Agreements With Tribal Members
    • Agreements With Tribes
    • Mining – Hard Rock, Coal and Industrial Minerals
    • Land and Mineral Acquisition
    • Litigation and Administrative Proceedings
    • Merger and Acquisitions
    • Mine Development and Operation
    • Title Review and Curative
    • Oil and Gas
    • Environmental
    • Title Examination
    • Access, Title and Property Disputes
    • Farm and Ranch Transactions
    • Water Rights
    • Water Law
    • Comprehensive Water Law Practice
    • Other Water-Related Matters
    • Teamwork
    • Water Right Transactions

Bar Admission

Montana, 2014
U.S. District Court, District of Montana, 2014
Nevada, 2016
U.S. District Court, District of Nevada, 2016
North Dakota, 2016
Idaho (pending)

Education

2014, J.D., Magna Cum Laude, J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University
2011, B.S. in Economics, Magna Cum Laude, Brigham Young University – Idaho

Prior Experience (Employment)

Intel Corporation, Hillsboro, OR – Market Analyst on Prototype Engineering Team, 2011
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Guatemala City, Guatemala – Legal Clerk, 2012
Shell Oil, Houston, TX – Summer Law Clerk, 2013
U.S. District Court of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT – Judicial Extern/Clerk for the Honorable Dale A. Kimball, 2013-2014

Honors & Awards

Order of the Coif (Top 10% of Law School Class, Ranked #9)
Newel K. Whitney Distinguished Outstanding Graduate – Economics, BYU-Idaho 2011
Distinguished Alumni, BYU-Idaho College of Business, 2013
Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Scholar 2013

Community Involvement

Board of Directors – Eagle Mount Billings (2014-2020)
President, Executive Committee – Eagle Mount Billings (2017-2019)
Board Member – JustServe, Billings, MT (2014-2015)
President – J. Reuben Clark Law Society, Montana Chapter (2015-present)
Assistant Debate Coach, – Skyview High School, Billings, MT (2016-present)

Professional Affiliations

American Exploration & Mining Association (AEMA) – Public Lands & Environmental Committees
Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation (RMMLF)
Montana Mining Association (MMA)
State Bar of Montana, Water Law Division
JRCLS
Nevada Water Resource Association
Yellowstone Area Bar Association

Presentations & Publications

Co-Chair of the “3rd Annual – Buying and Selling Ranches in Montana” – The Seminar Group, Billings, MT 2018
“How Industry and Regulators Are Responding to Challenges and Opportunities in Management, Reuse, and Beneficial Use of Produced Water” – RMMLF 2017 Annual Institute, Santa Fe, NM
“CERCLA 108(b)” – Montana Mining Association, 2017 Annual Meeting, Anaconda, MT
“Establishing the Validity of Agricultural Water Rights / Conducting Agricultural Water Rights Title Searches / Changing the Use and Diversion Point of Water”- NBI, Billings, MT 2015
Fresh Potato Price Volatility – presented IFAMA, Shanghai, China 2012