Wyoming Easement Question.

bullbugle307

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I have a question about using an easement to possibly access landlocked public property. My wife and I are in the process of buying a small property to build a cabin on that is accessed by an easement on a ranch road that takes you several miles through the ranch before it reaches the cabin subdivision. At one point, the access road going to the subdivision touches a BLM section that is otherwise landlocked in the ranch. I would like to think that a guy could hunt that public since it touches a road you are allowed to use, but can you be denied access to that public since that easement you have to drive on the road exists with the purpose of allowing you access the property you own further along the way. I guess what I'm asking is, are easements that cross private property to access property you own to be used exclusively for the access of your property and even though it goes through BLM you can't use the road to access it? I met the rancher recently and he seems to be a very nice guy and I feel like I should probably just approach him directly about the subject. That being said, I'm a little nervous about it because his family runs an outfitting operation on the ranch and he probably doesn't really want to have too many people hunting the BLM within his ranch just because it touches the road easement. I plan to ask the local warden or regional access coordinator about it before I talk to the rancher (if and when the sale gets finalized) but I thought I would see if anyone else has had this experience and what was decided and how it was worked out?
 

Addicting

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Have you done the title work yet to see if there are deed restrictions that apply to the easement? We went to buy some a few years ago and there were 9 pages of restrictions. Needless to say the deal was nixed after reading them all.
 

MTGomer

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I highly doubt the Warden has the slightest clue in the particulars of this easement. Get a copy of the easement document from the County recorder and read it. You may already have a copy of it in your title work. Or, look at the plat of your subdivision and if the easement road is part of the subdivision it will be dedicated on the plat. Read the dedication, what does it say?
 
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Both of the reponders above are correct. Ultimately, you need to read the easement--typically an access easement reads that the purpose is for ingress and egress only. I would doubt that stopping along the way to access adjacent property is part of that. If the road actually runs through the BLM, then you would need a separate easement from the BLM. In the latter case, I would suspect that you could stop off and hunt the BLM. If the road does not run through the BLM, I would try to be VERY sure that the surveyed easement actually touches the BLM. On my road easement, the road was defined by the terrain and surveyed without particular regard for where the 30-ft easement touched adjacent property. If you are certain that it actually touches, I would consult an attorney and ask them to provide their opinion on the easement--of course, even if you're within your rights, you'll likely lose any amicable relationship that you might have with the rancher.
 

ElkFever2

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I have read a few easement agreements in IA and MN. When easements run through hunting ground, whether private or landlocked public, I have not ever seen the landowner or lessor take deviations from the ingress/egress lightly. I have seen the sheriff called when someone stopped their car to let their dog run out and take a piss 30 feet from the road.

I met the rancher recently and he seems to be a very nice guy and I feel like I should probably just approach him directly about the subject.
Exactly. I'd approach this from the perspective of: accessing this BLM chunk is a possibility only. Let's say you do buy the lot and you build a relationship with the rancher over time. If would not be unreasonable to ask him, maybe a year or so later, if you could cross his property to hunt to BLM in a manner that you know does not interfere with the outfitting. For example, the outfitting is for deer/antelope, and you ask to hunt sharpies at times when outfitter is not operating that week. If you approach this with presumption or legal minutia, it's a great way to piss him off and ruin a good neighbor relationship, even if you did end up being technically right about access
 

bullbugle307

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Hey guys, sorry for the absence. Ive been super busy at work and with projects at the house. We went ahead and bought the property as it has definite access to difficult to access USFS land where Ive hiked in to hunt elk and mule deer in the past.

We closed on the contract on Friday and should get the deed and other paperwork for the property this week. Once I get it, I'll look very closely at the easement language and likely seek a legal opinion on accessing the BLM. One thing I know is that the easement road to the subdivision definitely crosses through the BLM section. I confirmed this with ONX when we looked at the property before we bought it. It would be crazy to me to not be able to access that section as the road that I have legal access to runs through BLM (that being said, it wouldn't surprise me either). I talked to my wife's aunt who works at the BLM and she confirmed that the devils in the details on the easement road and that I would need to get a seperate easement from the BLM regardless, but that that's not a terribly difficult process if I do have legal access to the BLM through my easement.

Theres so many questions still but hopefully I'll have answers soon and will share what I find. Regardless of whether he doesn't care if I access the BLM, I want to get a definitive legal answer in case the property ever sells or is inherited by someone else who isn't as friendly. Thanks for responding, and as I said, I'll share what I find as I think it's a really interesting access question.
 

VikingsGuy

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If you approach this with presumption or legal minutia, it's a great way to piss him off and ruin a good neighbor relationship, even if you did end up being technically right about access
This is a super important point. We have land in northern MN and the locals don’t want to hear legal arguments from strangers. They want new folks to earn a place at table with humility and respect. Then they can be your best ally. But start off on the wrong foot and it will make things unfun around town - remember, you will need a plumber, and electrical, etc from time to time - you don’t want the locals the hate you or you may find access to such services iffy. We invested in our neighbors and now all kinds of things just get done when we aren’t there, like our ditches getting mowed without asking and getting a plow job and a tow after an early storm.
 

MTGomer

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Hey guys, sorry for the absence. Ive been super busy at work and with projects at the house. We went ahead and bought the property as it has definite access to difficult to access USFS land where Ive hiked in to hunt elk and mule deer in the past.

We closed on the contract on Friday and should get the deed and other paperwork for the property this week. Once I get it, I'll look very closely at the easement language and likely seek a legal opinion on accessing the BLM. One thing I know is that the easement road to the subdivision definitely crosses through the BLM section. I confirmed this with ONX when we looked at the property before we bought it. It would be crazy to me to not be able to access that section as the road that I have legal access to runs through BLM (that being said, it wouldn't surprise me either). I talked to my wife's aunt who works at the BLM and she confirmed that the devils in the details on the easement road and that I would need to get a seperate easement from the BLM regardless, but that that's not a terribly difficult process if I do have legal access to the BLM through my easement.

Theres so many questions still but hopefully I'll have answers soon and will share what I find. Regardless of whether he doesn't care if I access the BLM, I want to get a definitive legal answer in case the property ever sells or is inherited by someone else who isn't as friendly. Thanks for responding, and as I said, I'll share what I find as I think it's a really interesting access question.
You’re over complicating this. What document conveys the easement and what does it say?

You don’t have to wait to buy something to perform due diligence.
 

bullbugle307

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The right of way document describes the easement as, " The ............. Ranch, a Wyoming Corporation, does hereby grant, bargain, and convey upon tract owners, their heirs successors, and assigns a perpetual right of way easement as an access road upon and across the following described lands described in Exhibit A...." I don't have any documents titled Exhibit A (I may need to get it from the county), but the road to the subdivision clearly goes through landlocked BLM.
 

MTGomer

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@bullbugle307
To me that says the easement is for the use of the tract owners just to access their property.
One could certainly try to make the argument that ‘access’ is not defined as to what you are accessing. I think logic leads to what the intent is, however. But intent isn't everything.
I’m unsure on this. If I was faced with this at work I’d ask our attorney.
@VikingsGuy what do you think?

If there isn’t legal access, this may be a case where you could very easily get it with a conversation. It may also be a situation where the people capable of controlling access don’t even know that they have that power (assuming that they do, which they may not).

What would be more favorable for you and what i was hoping it would be, was a dedication to the public for ingress and egress (and oftentimes public utilities) which is very common and would put you in the clear.

Exhibit A is going to be the legal descriptions of the property owned by the ranch that you passed through. It was on a different sheet and may not have gotten printed off. People often stop printing at the signature/notary page it seems like.
If you have the recording number(should be by the recorder’s stamp and likely begins with the year it was recorded) and the county you’re in has searchable documents online, go to the document search on the recorder’s website and search by that recording number. Exhibit A should be on the last page, if they did it right.
Many rural counties, I’m assuming this is one, have limited info online. Either way, you should have that recording number on page 1 or the signature page. If you call the recorder, and ask for that document to be emailed to you, I’ve found most are happy to do it for free.
 
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ElkFever2

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assigns a perpetual right of way easement as an access road
I'm no attorney, but it's pretty clear that this means access to your tract

I get kind of a sick feeling with the attitude you are approaching this with. I don't mean to be insulting. People who approach life in a manner by which words can be twisted or loosely interpreted to accomplish their ends often don't prosper very well in the long run. If I ask my wife may I run to the hardware store after work to pick up a few things, and she says "yes", it's not going to go over too well if I show up 5 hours later, missed dinner, and didn't say goodnight to my daughter. I could say that I literally browsed at the hardware store until closing time, but I'm also going to be sleeping the on the couch that night.

As an aside, the last acreage I owned was bordered on 4 sides by a single owner. I met the guy and his wife, who owned over 1k acres, and they were the nicest folks you could imagine. I maintained a relationship with them and always was friendly, positive, and helpful. I kept my fences clean, and one time removed an unsightly roadkill deer on the road to his house. My driveway was plowed on several occasions and I never knew for sure who did it. Another time I bought a truckload of gravel and came home the next day to find it spread out evenly across the area that would have taken a week for me to do it with my more amateur equipment. One year he sprayed his property along one edge of my property on a windy day and it killed about a 1/4 acre of my ornamental lawn grass. It was no sweat at all working out how to make this right since we had a good relationship. These are not the type of things you can anticipate, but they do come up. And when they do, it really does matter what kind of relationship you have with your neighbor.
 

bullbugle307

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"I get kind of a sick feeling with the attitude you are approaching this with. I don't mean to be insulting. People who approach life in a manner by which words can be twisted or loosely interpreted to accomplish their ends often don't prosper very well in the long run."

I'm literally here asking for advice so as to not do the wrong thing and to see if anyone else has ever run into this situation.

I'm just wanting to know what the legal answer is here because I'm a simpleton and don't understand legalese or easements at all. Plus, I find the whole topic really interesting and thought the people on here would as well. Also, I've known several ranchers/landowners that come off as really nice, but are either ignorant to the rules themselves or are willing to mislead or downright lie to public land hunters in order to try and protect their interests, hence why I want to know what's legal or not, not just what the rancher thinks or prefers. Im sure im not the only one heres who's had that experience.

This is the first property Ive ever bought, and even though you apparently think im some kind of sheisster trying to circumvent the rules, I do want to do the right thing and be a good neighbor, and to me that starts with knowing what the law says about something. That's why I'm asking people who know more than I do about this stuff. I can't really help the fact that i'm interested in hunting prime public ground that I can legally drive through, and offer no apologies for that. It seemed intuitive to me, in my ignorance, that I would be legally allowed to stop and hunt (my realtor thought the same thing), but as you guys have pointed out that's likely not the case. Thanks for the input everyone, I'll just assume I have no legal right to access the BLM.

I'll try to build a relationship with the landowner and over time ask if he would allow me to access it either by the road or by corner crossing from another publicly accessible section that Ive hunted in the past. Thanks again for taking the time to respond guys.
 

ElkFever2

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I'm literally here asking for advice so as to not do the wrong thing
Sometimes it is not a question of right/wrong, but of whether it is wise/prudent
I'm just wanting to know what the legal answer is here
You need to consult a real estate attorney and get a definitive answer. If you don't think the advice is accurate, consult a second real estate attorney. This really would have been better to do prior to the land purchase, but it is still a necessary step prior to you parking your truck along the access road to go hunting on the BLM land. By asking on HT you will get a bunch of opinions from lay people who do their best to give helpful info, but at the end of the day, it's just a bunch of lay people giving their best opinions.
Plus, I find the whole topic really interesting and thought the people on here would as well.
It is, and we do
Also, I've known several ranchers/landowners that come off as really nice, but are either ignorant to the rules themselves or are willing to mislead or downright lie to public land hunters in order to try and protect their interests
Irrelevant
even though you apparently think im some kind of sheisster trying to circumvent the rules
I do not. I trust my gut, and when my gut get's that sinking feeling, I don't ignore it. I'm trying to be helpful. Sometimes when you ask for help you get a different kind of answer than you were expecting. There's nothing wrong with this.

In your posts you repeatedly reference being able to legally cross into landlocked BLM land through the easement. It seems you more or less hang your hat on this assertion and want to make sure it holds up legally. My concern is that your focus is in the wrong place. That is why in my original response I mentioned that being technically right may not be the most important thing in this whole discussion. I still hold to that. You are more than welcome to disagree with that opinion, which is also shared by VikingsGuy, who knows a thing or two about many subjects, as seen on other threads.
It seemed intuitive to me, in my ignorance, that I would be legally allowed to stop and hunt (my realtor thought the same thing)
Realtor's are skilled in telling buyers exactly what they hope to hear. They eat when you sign on the dotted line.
 
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Ditto what some folks above have said about the prudence of what you're doing, apart from the legality. But I'm still unclear on a few things:
(1) I don't understand why you haven't gone to the county courthouse to pull ALL the recorded documents on the property (e.g. sales, liens, easements, covenants, etc.) before you bought it, just to make sure that everything was in order.
(2) If the road indeed does pass through BLM, the ranch cannot grant you access through it. You must have an easement/license from the BLM, which will have it's own terms. Sometimes these easements are not recorded at the county courthouse--I had to submit a FOIA request to obtain a BLM utility easement across my property from ~1950. If such an easement does not exist, a title company will not certify that the property has legally enforceable access, which will affect your ability to get financing on the property (now and in the future) and potentially access it. (I know because I had to get easements for my property AFTER I purchased it.)
(3) This would be a simple question for a real estate attorney to answer--pay the $250/hr and have the attorney answer all of your questions and review the documents on the property and make sure everything is in order. This is just part of due diligence.
 
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bullbugle307

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I thought I had done due diligence, its pretty obvious at this point I didn't do it as completely as I should have though. It's kindve hard to know what due diligence is with something like this if you've never been through the process. And like I said, I'm kindve a simpleton. No one's ever accused me of being the smartest.

I do have a seller's statement (which I assumed was legally binding) that states that there is legal access to the property, and there's like 15 other cabins up there already, so it seems everythings is on the up and up there. And I assumed the title insurance policy would cover me if everything's not. As far as going to the courthouse, I can see that I should've done that now, but Ive been working 60 plus hrs a week nearly every week for the last several months, mostly weird hours at night, plus a bunch of house projects that are weather/daylight/sleep schedule dependent, and the county courthouse is over 3 hrs away one way in this case.

I bought the property knowing it had USFS access, and figuring the BLM would be a nice bonus if I can access it. So if I don't have access to that one section, not a big deal, if I do, awesome.

The point Cornell Cowboy made about the BLM easement is particularly helpful (so thank you for that info). I stopped and introduced myself to the rancher when I went to look at the property a month and a half or so so, chatted about mutual aquantinces and his family member who was selling the small parcel we just bought, and followed his directions to the subdivision so as not to drive on any of the wrong roads. Theres no signs or anything leading to the subdivision, so I wanted to be sure to take the right road on the way in. I followed his directions to the t, and ended up at the subdivision on what was obviously the most well maintained road, and definetely went through BLM, so perhaps there is an easement in place with the BLM already for subdivision owners. Or I screwed up somehow and made an honest mistake and took the wrong road but still ended up at the right place. I don't see how I could've been on the wrong road as I was on the most well maintained road and it took me where I needed to go (the HOA docs state that the HOA maintains the road, so it made sense it would be more well maintained than a ranch two tracker).

I'll add contacting the BLM to the list of due dilligence to be done that I should've done before I bought the place.

Again, thanks for the info/opinions guys. I definitely got the point that what's legal isn't always prudent, and Ill keep that in mind. Regardless of that, I still want to know what's legal in this case and I don't see any harm in that as a starting place before I discuss it with the rancher, If I do that at all. I always like to have knowledge going into a discussion, it beats not knowing what the heck you're talking about.

If you guys that chipped in want any info on hunting SE Wyoming, or especially fishing SE Wyoming, PM me and I'll certainly share some tips and places to check out.
 

wllm1313

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I thought I had done due diligence, its pretty obvious at this point I didn't do it as completely as I should have though. It's kindve hard to know what due diligence is with something like this if you've never been through the process. And like I said, I'm kindve a simpleton. No one's ever accused me of being the smartest.

I do have a seller's statement (which I assumed was legally binding) that states that there is legal access to the property, and there's like 15 other cabins up there already, so it seems everythings is on the up and up there. And I assumed the title insurance policy would cover me if everything's not. As far as going to the courthouse, I can see that I should've done that now, but Ive been working 60 plus hrs a week nearly every week for the last several months, mostly weird hours at night, plus a bunch of house projects that are weather/daylight/sleep schedule dependent, and the county courthouse is over 3 hrs away one way in this case.

I bought the property knowing it had USFS access, and figuring the BLM would be a nice bonus if I can access it. So if I don't have access to that one section, not a big deal, if I do, awesome.

The point Cornell Cowboy made about the BLM easement is particularly helpful (so thank you for that info). I stopped and introduced myself to the rancher when I went to look at the property a month and a half or so so, chatted about mutual aquantinces and his family member who was selling the small parcel we just bought, and followed his directions to the subdivision so as not to drive on any of the wrong roads. Theres no signs or anything leading to the subdivision, so I wanted to be sure to take the right road on the way in. I followed his directions to the t, and ended up at the subdivision on what was obviously the most well maintained road, and definetely went through BLM, so perhaps there is an easement in place with the BLM already for subdivision owners. Or I screwed up somehow and made an honest mistake and took the wrong road but still ended up at the right place. I don't see how I could've been on the wrong road as I was on the most well maintained road and it took me where I needed to go (the HOA docs state that the HOA maintains the road, so it made sense it would be more well maintained than a ranch two tracker).

I'll add contacting the BLM to the list of due dilligence to be done that I should've done before I bought the place.

Again, thanks for the info/opinions guys. I definitely got the point that what's legal isn't always prudent, and Ill keep that in mind. Regardless of that, I still want to know what's legal in this case and I don't see any harm in that as a starting place before I discuss it with the rancher, If I do that at all. I always like to have knowledge going into a discussion, it beats not knowing what the heck you're talking about.

If you guys that chipped in want any info on hunting SE Wyoming, or especially fishing SE Wyoming, PM me and I'll certainly share some tips and places to check out.
After reading through everything I think you probably have a good claim that as a homeowner you are allowed to access that parcel: easement, HOA maintains the road, you are an HOA member, etc. That being said if it were me I would want to make sure I was on good standing with my neighbors.

If it was me I would probably reach out to the ranch manager and have a chat. I had a similar issue a few years ago: there was a vacant lot in the neighborhood I grew up in, for 15+ years that's how everyone in the subdivision accessed the BLM behind us... finally the lot sold and was built on, the owner put up a no trespassing sign. I walked over with a six pack and welcomed him to the neighborhood, talked to him about the access issue and asked if we could still use his drive way for access provided, no one park their car in front of his house, just peddle or walk through, and if we have dogs make sure we clean up after them. The owner had no problem with that, he said just put up the sign because he didn't want people parking him in all the time.
 
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As was stated, it is always best to start off as good neighbors and review.
That said, after reading through the information and statements provided, and based on this limited information, the road was granted as an access route to the property purchased. The seller may and can restrict access 'from' said road to any adjoining property that the owner/seller owns or perhaps owned in the past with "descending" restrictions. However, what he/she can not do is restrict you to leave the access road to another's property, for example, State Trust, BLM, etc.
These are the land owners others roast on the internet for claiming more rights than is legally theirs in attempt to spoil public hunting.

*This is not legal advice, but I do work as a legal consultant on leasing and land purchasing in 5 eastern states.
 
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