Friday, February 21, 2014

Right-of-Way and Eminent Domain

(C) Finntann


The West

is a patchwork of public and private, state and federal land.  Here in Colorado the Forest Service controls 22% of the land and the Bureau of Land Management controls another 15%.  

When it comes to the forests of Colorado 68% are in federal ownership; the USFS controls 47%,  the BLM controls 17%, and the National Park Service 2%, the other 2% is controlled by various other federal agencies such as the Department of Defense and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  The Colorado State Land Board owns another 2% and the remaining 30% is in private hands.  

Throughout Colorado are thousands of properties that are known as enclaves or inholdings, that is property completely surrounded by public land ranging from single private property holdings, developments and communities, to entire cities and towns.

Colorado State University

The Barrie's

In 2011 the Barrie's purchased the Hunter Mine Parcel south of Breckenridge, 10.3 acres with a cabin surrounded by USFS land in the White River National Forest and an adjacent home in a subdivision below the property, the two properties came with an ATV and were connected by an old mining road dating back to the 1890's.  In 2012 the Barrie's were informed that they could no longer use the ATV to access their property under the White River National Forest Traffic Management Plan.

The Barrie's countered that the road, built under the 1866 Revised Statute 2477 constituted a legal right of way.  R.S. 2477 was a simple law from a simpler time:

 "the right-of-way for the construction of highways across public lands not otherwise reserved for public purposes is hereby granted."  

While RS 2477 was repealed in 1976 by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, it was repealed subject to valid existing rights.  

"Nothing in this Act, or in any amendment made by this Act, shall be construed as terminating any valid lease, permit, patent, right-of-way, or other land use right or authorization existing on the date of approval of this Act"

When it appeared that the Barrie's might have a case for access Summit County switched tactics, claimed the previous owner made unpermitted modifications and threatened to seize the property through eminent domain, offering them first $30,000 and then $50,000 for their 10.3 acre parcel.  If you're not familiar with the area I can assure you, $50,000 an acre outside of Breckenridge is a steal, $5,000 an acre is downright robbery.

A Matter close at heart 

The photo above isn't the Barrie's cabin, it's mine and while I don't live in a private inholding, the town I live in and even the one next to it are enclaves within a national forest.  You cannot get to or from where I live without driving through national forest, national monument, or state park.  It is ridiculous that Summit County would strip the right of access from a property well over 125 years old.


Summit Daily

Summit County Eminent Domain Claim  

Because 2.3 million acres just isn't enough 

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