Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Ranchers, environmental group settle trespass lawsuit

A group of Wyoming ranchers and the environmental group they were suing for trespassing have reached a settlement, with both sides claiming victory. Fifteen landowners from Fremont, Sublette and Uinta counties alleged in a 2014 lawsuit that a Western Watersheds Project researcher had illegally crossed their property to collect water samples. The settlement prohibits the group’s employees from going onto the landowners’ property in the future and makes it easier for the ranchers to seek punitive damages if future trespassing occurs, plaintiff’s attorney Karen Budd-Falen said. “We are very happy,” Budd-Falen said. “The settlement gives the landowners even more than they could have gotten if Western Watersheds Project had allowed the case to go forward.” But watersheds project interim director Greta Anderson said the settlement represented a positive outcome for the organization under the circumstances. “Her claims didn’t actually win anything that didn’t already exist,” Anderson said, noting that while the settlement explicitly bars watersheds representatives from trespassing on private land, those same restrictions apply to all members of the public...more

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