Public or private roads, gates and no motorized trails?

get-n-birdy

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Forgive my ignorance, but why with modern technology, data bases galore and the incredible tool known as a gps, can't there be better ways to map, mark, gps roads closed to motorized vehicles, public or private access roads to land locked blm properties and gates on public lands that are off limits to vehicle travel online or on mapping software?

Have an older garmin GPS with onx cards, so I know I'm a bit behind the latest/greatest mouse trap, but just not sure why it's so hard to have that information transparent and readily available. Especially when we are supposed to know this stuff, yet at times it seems like even the forest service and blm employees aren't even sure at times?
 

wllm1313

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Part of the issue is that road closures are often seasonal and subject to current conditions. Furthermore OnX doesn't ground truth it's data it purchases/cleans public datasets, I am a GIS analyst by profession and have worked for state agencies in CO. There is not a common database that the state has access to let alone one that is available for public consumption, creating one would require federal agencies to send people out into the field to locate and mark roads, to have staff research access, and to have a coordinator stay in contact with import data from the various field offices, this takes $$$$

So if you are frustrated by the lack of data maybe give your local senator/congressman a call and give them hell about hammering the budgets of the USFS and BLM. (Esp the R's)
 

Nameless Range

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Part of the issue is that road closures are often seasonal and subject to current conditions. Furthermore OnX doesn't ground truth it's data it purchases/cleans public datasets, I am a GIS analyst by profession and have worked for state agencies in CO. There is not a common database that the state has access to let alone one that is available for public consumption, creating one would require federal agencies to send people out into the field to locate and mark roads, to have staff research access, and to have a coordinator stay in contact with import data from the various field offices, this takes $$$$

So if you are frustrated by the lack of data maybe give your local senator/congressman a call and give them hell about hammering the budgets of the USFS and BLM. (Esp the R's)
Fully agree. I'm a GIS Analyst as well, and folks are naive about how much it would take to achieve this, though I know many agencies are in the process of getting it done, and I'm confident that someday down the road it will be done. One other thing to consider, in declaring a road open to the public, where they may be contention, an agency may be opening itself up to some massive legal fees in the form of a lawsuit. Not preferable agencies already running thin. To do this on a batch level with all of their parcels at once, would not be strategic. The fact is for many parcels, their access determinations have yet to be decided, or are currently flying under the radar, and cementing their status will take $.
 
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get-n-birdy

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Really appreciate the feed back.

Some counties are really, really good with having maps on their web sites with access points and roads open to public travel. Garfield county is very good and Rio blanco isn't bad, but Moffat, not so much for example. Hunted out there back in the late 90's early 2000's and had a gate that was posted up like I've never seen before. It was supposedly a public road. This was before mapping software on GPS's and we were very good at reading maps. Went into the blm office and this guy was a habitual guy for locking and posting public access roads. He supposedly even shot at people. Pretty soon we had a crowd gathered and they were going to go deal with it and the enforcement guys had to put bullet proof vests on to go deal with it. Is that that common we thought and it sounded like it wasn't rare. Have wanted to go back to the area and doing the usual escouting, was surprised how deep a guy has to dig to find information about access, especially when you are constantly told to know where you are and going, when there's gray areas that aren't openly available to the public.

My dad and I own property in north eastern Minnesota. Have habitual road hunters and trespassers. Have some great CO's in the area. The lengths they and land owners have to go too, to legal post and convict trespassers is insane and convictions are rare. Out west everything falls on the public to know the boundaries or access points, yet the access points and roads/trail information is almost held in secret code. I get it and love reading maps, aerial photos and GPS mapping software, and can't totally understand how hard that is to process that kinda data on an ever changing platform. But doesn't some of that fall on the agency's in charge of that and the land owners to some degree?

The GPS mapping has changed the game and majorly leveled the playing field imo and can't even imagine how much that must frustrate the ranchers, outfitters and land owners who've been able to keep a lot of that information to themselves.
 

wllm1313

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can't even imagine how much that must frustrate the ranchers, outfitters and land owners who've been able to keep a lot of that information to themselves.
Definitely true, hell I've had spots get destroyed by onxmaps once people realized there was a tiny strip of access, that being said I think the idea that anyone is trying to intentionally obscure anything(not that you are suggesting it) is just a conspiracy theory.

Nameless, highlights a huge issue with contentions access issues. Further complicating this is that there isn't just one type of easement. Their are prescriptive easements that simple mean a road/trail is open because people have been using it without permission for a long time, there are easements with local governments, the BLM, USFS, etc. There are also land swaps, boundary corrections, and a bunch of errors. Also easements often don't effect the tax liability of an owner so it doesn't prompt a boundary change of the property in the assessor database which is literally the only place for 99% of the country which has any comprehensive data set for landownership, essentially even if an easement is filed with the county it's not mapped and put on their layer because they only record "tax parcels." Similarly no county in the country, to my knowledge, maps mineral ownership. I work in the Oil and Gas industry and part of my job early on was to help our land department determine title for the various pieces of property that we wanted to lease or had leased and needed to cure before we drilled. In many areas this is hugely difficult and mistakes happen all the time, I have spent countless hours trying to figure out the boundaries of various properties with documents going back to the 1700s in West Virginia and parts of Texas. Landowner's will sometimes convey surface ownership to conservation groups and retain mineral ownership by accident because of the type of instrument they used, 2 generations later an OG company has the rights to drill under a state forest and all hell breaks loose.

Here is a perfect example, my father-n-law, made a deal with the BLM a while back to create a public easement across his property. Basically he provided access, they gave him a couple of acres that were contiguous with his property. At the same time he also did a conservation easement on his pivot system. A third party conservation organisation managed the whole process so the grantor/grantee on the county website show an LLC not the BLM so you can't look up the easement easily. Also even though my F-I-L changed the signage on his property, and filed the easement and swap with the county the BLM didn't change their records. For 5 years or so Onxmaps show the boundary incorrectly because they were relying on the BLM dataset rather than the county, and it didn't get fixed until I plotted the easement via the metes and bounds legal description from the agreement, created a shapefile and provided that in person to the regional BLM office. The only reason I was able to get this done was I had the agreement in hand, the local game warden knew the road was open because they drove up there all the time, but the 25 year old tech in the BLM office had never been to that part of the state and all they had to go with was the layer in the system. No one had sent a copy of the easement and swap to the GIS department and said "hey this was just filed, update our records". If you had called the BLM in 08' they would have told you the rancher was posting public land as private and that you couldn't drive up the road, if you had called the warden they would have told you different.
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I realize this is a long ramble, but basically land work is a PITA and access is hugely complicated on so many levels.
 
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scubohuntr

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There's also the issue of private landowners posting and gating public roads. It happens all the time, and nobody has the time or money to follow up on it. A lot of the bazillionaires that are buying up hunting property do this as a matter of course, and count on the backlog at land management agencies to keep them closed. They'll buy a small parcel of land straddling the only access road into a large public area, and gate the road. They know perfectly well they are in the wrong, but until someone has the time and budget to get the paperwork through USFS' or BLM's bureaucracy, it stays closed, so they're golden, and have exclusive access to thousands of acres of public land. There is no way for Joe Hunter to effectively fight it, other than creating a huge, ugly and counterproductive confrontation. Most hunters go out of their way to respect landowners, so a gate with "No Trespassing" signs rarely gets challenged.
 

get-n-birdy

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The one gate we dealt with in Colorado, the blm office was very appreciative for us contacting them about it. They are backlogged and don't the have the time and resources to drive roads and find infractions. But they were very eager to deal with a known issue. With the advent of the GPS mapping software now available to us today, imo, blocking access is illegal and affects a lot of people. I for one have forgiveness for honest mistakes, but not egregious ones with intent to deceive and manipulate. Have been fortunate enough to have had some great interactions with posted land and ranchers. Having an old man who taught my brother and I to respect land owners was a huge help in understanding that a land owner has every right to post their property and allow or deny access, that is their given right. As much as it irked me when gas and oil companies closed off the girl claims, it's still their right in a sue happy nation. But closing off legal access is a whole different ball of yarn.
 

one ate E grain

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I'd use the GPS with a few grains of salt. Boundaries can well be mismarked on the maps, roads and trails as well. If there is contention with a land owner I'd er on the side of being polite, and get his contact info as well as seeking out the local land agencies etc. This weekend a friend noticed ONX had marked an illegal bike trail as going smack dab across the middle of his property. To see in on the GPS it looks like any other bike trail, there is no right of way, never was. My friend is ok with hunters but bikers and dog walkers he'd just as soon intimidate the living stuffing out of them.
 
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