Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Supreme Court deals setback to rails-to-trails movement
The Supreme Court dealt a setback Monday to the popular redevelopment trend of transforming abandoned railroad lines into public bike paths, ruling that buyers of such lands are not required to continue granting a federal right of way.
Legal experts said the decision would make it harder to build bike or hiking trails in areas of the West where railroads were often built on former federal land. In some instances, local governments may be forced to pay compensation to owners whose land is now crossed by bike paths or other government-built trails and parks.
In an 8-1 decision, the justices ruled in favor of Marvin Brandt, a Wyoming man who controls 83 acres of land that was formerly used by the Wyoming and Colorado Railroad, located near the Medicine Bow National Forest. When the U.S. Forest Service told Brandt that the government retained the railroad's right of way across his land and planned to use it for a bike trail, he filed suit.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the Railroad Right of Way Act of 1875 gave the rail lines a temporary easement across the land, but once the rail line was abandoned and the property was sold, the government no longer had a right of way.
So when the Wyoming and Colorado Railroad abandoned the line in 2004, "Brandt's land became unburdened of the easement, conferring on him the same full rights" to keep others off his private property, Roberts said...more
A more accurate title to the LA Times article would be "Supreme Court deals setback to government theft movement"