Crazy Mountains Public Access & FS Management Lawsuit Filed Today

Stone_Ice_1

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Yup, and it is up to the public to prove that the landowner is illegally posting it. That's why if you see a trail posted (or they are requiring permission to use it) you need to make sure someone is pursuing it.

I'm told roads aren't the same. If you can prove it is a county road it doesn't matter how long it has been blocked.
Roads are not the same, I know this from experience as my family went to court over an easement through a road. If they can show an easement existed at any time for the road then any 5 year or longer time frame makes no difference.

This 5 year thing for trails is total BS if true. A property owner can through up a sign on a trail that is on their property and 5 years later the easement no longer exists? Thats insane.
 

RobG

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Roads are not the same, I know this from experience as my family went to court over an easement through a road. If they can show an easement existed at any time for the road then any 5 year or longer time frame makes no difference.

This 5 year thing for trails is total BS if true. A property owner can through up a sign on a trail that is on their property and 5 years later the easement no longer exists? Thats insane.
True, sort of. If people object to it and take action to perfect the easement he will have to take down his signs. (A perfected easement has been found valid, say in a court, and can never be taken away.)

A more insidious way of extinguishing a trail easement is to ask people to get permission before using the trail. That will extinguish an easement after five years if people fall for it. It takes advantage of unwitting peoples’ desire to be nice to other people. That should be illegal.

At least in MT all you have to do for a road is to show public funds were used to maintain it at one time. There has been bills to change that but so far they haven’t made it through.
 

RobG

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Judge Watters has spoken and denied the plaintiff's case. Again, this isn't a surprise to anyone I have talked to. I don't celebrate their loss, but I would celebrate certain plaintiffs admitting fantasy and hidden agendas are not legitimate foundations for an appeal. Be clear, the actions and ongoing public statements of at least some of the plaintiffs are clearly aimed at undermining ongoing work to secure access and I'm getting fed up with the lies being told about "change in policy," "Yellowstone Club," etc. to further that goal.

Here is an interesting piece from the recent ruling where they can't even tell the judge what the Forest Service is supposed to do. Their lawyer was hammered on this in the hearing and still can't even answer the question in their objections. What is the purpose of this suit? (emphasis mine below).

1648938749626.png



To show the kind of crap being pulled, consider this paragraph from Caven's description of the hearing.

1648938856402.png

The FS was negotiating with the landowner at the time, and the suit actually tried to block the results of that negotiation with the plaintiffs alleging that cooperating with landowners would set a terrible precedent. Saying negotiating with landowners would set a precedent is utter BS and the history of doing so was conveniently left out of description of the very document that they took out of context to justify their case. How can people on the ground trying to make real progress not be frustrated by this baloney?

Going forward we will get to see which parties are legitimately working for access and the ones that just want to continue their 5+ year history of trying to sabotage anything that puts landowners at the table.
 

Attachments

  • Final Decision Watters BHA et al.pdf
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Judge Watters has spoken and denied the plaintiff's case. Again, this isn't a surprise to anyone I have talked to. I don't celebrate their loss, but I would celebrate certain plaintiffs admitting fantasy and hidden agendas are not legitimate foundations for an appeal. Be clear, the actions and ongoing public statements of at least some of the plaintiffs are clearly aimed at undermining ongoing work to secure access and I'm getting fed up with the lies being told about "change in policy," "Yellowstone Club," etc. to further that goal.

Here is an interesting piece from the recent ruling where they can't even tell the judge what the Forest Service is supposed to do. Their lawyer was hammered on this in the hearing and still can't even answer the question in their objections. What is the purpose of this suit? (emphasis mine below).

View attachment 217785



To show the kind of crap being pulled, consider this paragraph from Caven's description of the hearing.

View attachment 217786

The FS was negotiating with the landowner at the time, and the suit actually tried to block the results of that negotiation with the plaintiffs alleging that cooperating with landowners would set a terrible precedent. Saying negotiating with landowners would set a precedent is utter BS and the history of doing so was conveniently left out of description of the very document that they took out of context to justify their case. How can people on the ground trying to make real progress not be frustrated by this baloney?

Going forward we will get to see which parties are legitimately working for access and the ones that just want to continue their 5+ year history of trying to sabotage anything that puts landowners at the table.
Who were the attorneys for the plaintiffs?
 

RobG

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Who were the attorneys for the plaintiffs?
 

R.K.

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Judge Watters has spoken and denied the plaintiff's case. Again, this isn't a surprise to anyone I have talked to. I don't celebrate their loss, but I would celebrate certain plaintiffs admitting fantasy and hidden agendas are not legitimate foundations for an appeal. Be clear, the actions and ongoing public statements of at least some of the plaintiffs are clearly aimed at undermining ongoing work to secure access and I'm getting fed up with the lies being told about "change in policy," "Yellowstone Club," etc. to further that goal.

Here is an interesting piece from the recent ruling where they can't even tell the judge what the Forest Service is supposed to do. Their lawyer was hammered on this in the hearing and still can't even answer the question in their objections. What is the purpose of this suit? (emphasis mine below).

View attachment 217785



To show the kind of crap being pulled, consider this paragraph from Caven's description of the hearing.

View attachment 217786

The FS was negotiating with the landowner at the time, and the suit actually tried to block the results of that negotiation with the plaintiffs alleging that cooperating with landowners would set a terrible precedent. Saying negotiating with landowners would set a precedent is utter BS and the history of doing so was conveniently left out of description of the very document that they took out of context to justify their case. How can people on the ground trying to make real progress not be frustrated by this baloney?

Going forward we will get to see which parties are legitimately working for access and the ones that just want to continue their 5+ year history of trying to sabotage anything that puts landowners at the table.
Thanks for the update. So... What's next? Any hope of negotiated access, a perfected easement, etc., to regain public access up this drainage?
 
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Thanks for the update. So... What's next? Any hope of negotiated access, a perfected easement, etc., to regain public access up this drainage?
Acquiring a perfected easement would require litigation directly against the landowners blocking the trail.

The landowners blocking the trial have rejected any negotiations to open the trail back up to unobstructed public access.
 

RobG

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Acquiring a perfected easement would require litigation directly against the landowners blocking the trail.

The landowners blocking the trial have rejected any negotiations to open the trail back up to unobstructed public access.
I was just about to say the same thing. Hopefully any litigation will happen after the land exchange is completed as they specifically leave that option open. This alone is evidence that the landowners feel they have a strong case. However, if litigation proved the existing road deep into the Sweet Grass was public it would be important to secure a place to park.
 

802flyfish

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RobG

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Oh buoy, I wondered how that article was going to turn out. She's been working on that for a long time. It looks like she might be in over her head. Thanks for posting it anyway.

One perpetual myth that I wish would be busted is this claim that the FS stopped defending these trails around 2019. That isn't true; they stopped defending the two east side trails in the 80s and 90s. What they did not do was stop saying prescriptive easements existed on these trails.

Unfortunately, merely saying a prescriptive easement exists does nothing to defend it. It does, however, prevent you from officially acknowledging you have no claim.

Defending is ensuring that the legal criteria for a prescriptive easement is maintained. In simple terms, the criteria are that the public uses it steadily, and that they do it without landowner's permission, and that this occurred continuously during the last five years.

As I said earlier, for practical purposes the FS stopped "defending" these trails about 30 years ago. Why did they continue to say they had rights? To keep their foot in the door in case something changed. It would be incredibly stupid to give up a right without being forced to.

Internal memos show the FS looked into opening these trails more than once, but they didn't feel they had a strong enough case, but there was no reason to formerly give up a claim. Does that make sense?

I know what you are thinking, what about Alex Sienkiewicz???? (Pronounced Sin-kev-itch btw.) He defended the trails, right? Yes, around 2014, I don't know the exact date, he started defending the trails by tearing down some no trespassing signs and encouraging people to use the trails. He was openly taking on the landowners.

Realistically, he was too late and several knowledgeable people in the FS said as much to me right after I got my ticket. As is well known, his advocacy was shut down real quick.

Pick whatever conspiracy theory you want as to why he was shut down, it doesn't matter; the fact is the Forest Service had stopped defending those trails long ago and Alex's advocacy was a blip and it wasn't representative of the historic policy in that area.

I'm sure this is too long and complicated for most to digest, but maybe now you know how to pronounce Sienkiewicz.
 

rogerthat

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Oh buoy, I wondered how that article was going to turn out. She's been working on that for a long time. It looks like she might be in over her head. Thanks for posting it anyway.

One perpetual myth that I wish would be busted is this claim that the FS stopped defending these trails around 2019. That isn't true; they stopped defending the two east side trails in the 80s and 90s. What they did not do was stop saying prescriptive easements existed on these trails.

Unfortunately, merely saying a prescriptive easement exists does nothing to defend it. It does, however, prevent you from officially acknowledging you have no claim.

Defending is ensuring that the legal criteria for a prescriptive easement is maintained. In simple terms, the criteria are that the public uses it steadily, and that they do it without landowner's permission, and that this occurred continuously during the last five years.

As I said earlier, for practical purposes the FS stopped "defending" these trails about 30 years ago. Why did they continue to say they had rights? To keep their foot in the door in case something changed. It would be incredibly stupid to give up a right without being forced to.

Internal memos show the FS looked into opening these trails more than once, but they didn't feel they had a strong enough case, but there was no reason to formerly give up a claim. Does that make sense?

I know what you are thinking, what about Alex Sienkiewicz???? (Pronounced Sin-kev-itch btw.) He defended the trails, right? Yes, around 2014, I don't know the exact date, he started defending the trails by tearing down some no trespassing signs and encouraging people to use the trails. He was openly taking on the landowners.

Realistically, he was too late and several knowledgeable people in the FS said as much to me right after I got my ticket. As is well known, his advocacy was shut down real quick.

Pick whatever conspiracy theory you want as to why he was shut down, it doesn't matter; the fact is the Forest Service had stopped defending those trails long ago and Alex's advocacy was a blip and it wasn't representative of the historic policy in that area.

I'm sure this is too long and complicated for most to digest, but maybe now you know how to pronounce Sienkiewicz.
That’s all fine and dandy Rob but what keeps a landowner from locking any gate and denying access? How would you ever maintain a prescriptive trail easement if the landowner locks the gate and says trespassers will be shot? if some form of government isn’t going to step in than who? Your basically saying prescriptive trail easements only exist if the landowner allows them
 

RobG

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That’s all fine and dandy Rob but what keeps a landowner from locking any gate and denying access? How would you ever maintain a prescriptive trail easement if the landowner locks the gate and says trespassers will be shot? if some form of government isn’t going to step in than who? Your basically saying prescriptive trail easements only exist if the landowner allows them

Thanks for chiming in. The narrative around this is another frustrating myth. For practical purposes, it has always been the sector taking the landowner to court if they block access. That's why PLWA is so important.

In the last 20 years the only time the FS took off the gloves (i.e. filing a statement of interest on the land title) was the Wonder Ranch, which was a heavily used trail that where the landowner was attempting to extinguish the easement. In other cases, the response has always been to negotiate. They even tried to negotiate a solution to the Wonder Ranch.
 

RobG

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The article says deeded. If it's deeded you have proof. There would be no recorse by the landowner if it's deeded.
That is true, but the article deeded specifically says these easements weren't deeded. Simply having proof isn't enough. You need to take that "proof" to court and prove to a judge that it is valid before the trail becomes public.

By the time Alex came around the "proof" was very weak so if they took it to court they would probably lose. Internal memos show they looked into it several times over the last twenty years. That is not to say Alex was doing anything wrong by advocating for the public.
 

300stw

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why isnt the forest service guilty of wrong doing ,by stopping the enforcement , ect, in the 80,s 90,s as you put it.

like any other agency, guilty of not doing their job, someone comes along and sues, ect,,,,,

any factual data on why the forest service gave up in the 80,s, who was head honcho back then,,,,,
 

300stw

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as the public stands here today and reads these situations, were is the watchdog group, that steps up and says, hey , you government agency, your not doing your job, do it know or were filing lawsuits,

how does the general public insure agancies are doing thier jobs in the easement department,,,
 

RobG

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as the public stands here today and reads these situations, were is the watchdog group, that steps up and says, hey , you government agency, your not doing your job, do it know or were filing lawsuits,

how does the general public insure agancies are doing thier jobs in the easement department,,,

The answer is simple: the Forest Service is not required to "do their job" by taking on landowners that block trails. It is entirely their discretion on how to deal with it. Considering that the FS is part of the Department of Agriculture it shouldn't be surprising that it isn't required to sue ranchers.

The only recourse these watchdog groups have is to take on the landowners themselves.

The judge's comments that I posted are worth reading and cover the faults of the plaintiff's allegations that are driving the frustrating false narrative.
 

neffa3

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The answer is simple: the Forest Service is not required to "do their job" by taking on landowners that block trails. It is entirely their discretion on how to deal with it. Considering that the FS is part of the Department of Agriculture it shouldn't be surprising that it isn't required to sue ranchers.

The only recourse these watchdog groups have is to take on the landowners themselves.

The judge's comments that I posted are worth reading and cover the faults of the plaintiff's allegations that are driving the frustrating false narrative.
It is disappointing that the FS isn't, hasn't, and likely won't ever be public access advocates. They're too beholden to political leverage.

However, they are required to protect deeded easements so I hold out some hope that non profits can work to perfect these easements, at which point the FS can then take over.
 

RobG

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It is disappointing that the FS isn't, hasn't, and likely won't ever be public access advocates. They're too beholden to political leverage.

However, they are required to protect deeded easements so I hold out some hope that non profits can work to perfect these easements, at which point the FS can then take over.
Exactly. 100 likes.
 

MTGomer

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That’s all fine and dandy Rob but what keeps a landowner from locking any gate and denying access? How would you ever maintain a prescriptive trail easement if the landowner locks the gate and says trespassers will be shot? if some form of government isn’t going to step in than who? Your basically saying prescriptive trail easements only exist if the landowner allows them

A prescriptive easement is as legitimate of a right as a perfected easement, once it has been adjudicated in a court room. until that has happened, there is only a claim of prescription by one side, and a claim of no access by the other.

A land owner “allowing“ access is just permission, not prescription. Asking permission is a great way to ruin any prescriptive claim. If you need permission you don’t have prescription.

To Establish prescription, access must be “adverse(to title), open and notorious”.
 

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