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Ranchers side with Conservationists (Read 1270 times)
DirtQuad
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Ranchers side with Conservationists
03/13/06 at 21:19:19
 
Conservationists back ranchers in gate dispute
The Salt Lake Tribune

Northern Utah farmers and ranchers, angered by Box Elder County's prosecution of one of their own for locking a gate on a road through a family ranch, have joined forces with conservation groups.
   Two dozen ranchers, together with the Ogden Sierra Club, Bear River Watershed Council and Bridgerland Audubon Society, are calling the charges 'coercion' to get residents to relinquish private property. They also blast Cache and Box Elder counties, as well as the Forest Service, for failing to stop off-road vehicle users from trespassing on private land.
   Box Elder County Attorney Amy Hugie last month charged 38-year-old Bret cq Selman, a prominent Tremonton rancher who with his parents runs a 7,000-acre ranch southeast of Mantua, with five class B misdemeanors - four counts for placing a gate on the road and one count of obstructing traffic.
   Shaun Peck, Selman's Logan attorney, said his client admits locking the gate.
   'It's a question of whether he has a right to lock it," Peck said. "We maintain he did.'
   The Selmans contend that the rough dirt road in question is a private 'livestock driveway' that has always been posted as 'No Trespassing' or as private property. The gate across the road traditionally has been closed but not locked.
   A year ago, Hugie insisted the road has always been a county road. There is case law to support the notion that a road can become public through frequent public use. Hugie could not be reached Wednesday for additional comment.
   Former state Sen. Eli Anderson of Bothwell is one of the ranchers rallying behind Selman.
   'It's a sad day when a landowner ends up being prosecuted for protecting his property,' Anderson said Wednesday.
   Anderson, who is seeking a seat on the Box Elder County Commission, said he doesn't buy the county's claim to the road.
   'It just amazes me that something like this could happen here in Utah, in Box Elder County, let alone in America.'
   A year ago, Selman and 20 other landowners begged Box Elder commissioners to drop county claims to the road and another south of Mantua.
   Private land, the owners insisted, is being chewed up and wildlife endangered by some ORV users who do not stick to the roads.
     The commission rebuffed the landowners, arguing that public roads leading to the National Forest must remain open to the public. The road, which the Forest Service calls Sink Hole Road, links Box Elder County's Rocky Dugway Road with Three Mile Canyon Road on the Wasatch-Cache National Forest.
   The Forest Service, acting on the recommendation of a Box Elder access committee, said it will open the stretch of Sink Hole Road south of the Selman ranch to motorized vehicles as part of a plan to create a 20-mile loop through the valleys south and east of Mantua.
   Off-road enthusiasts and elected leaders in the area support such a loop. They hope to attract visitors and link the loop with the Shoshone Trail, a massive trail network envisioned for northern Utah.
   The Selmans, who are negotiating a conservation easement with the Nature Conservancy for part of their ranch, have said they fear motorcyclists, four-wheelers and snowmobilers will damage the ranch's habitat for sharp-tail cq grouse and sage grouse, two sensitive species, as well as for deer, elk and moose.
   Dan Schroeder, conservation chair of the Ogden Sierra Club, said the threat goes beyond the Selman case. He said federal, state, county and city governments have planned expanding ORV roads for years.
   'There seems to be an unspoken agreement among these agencies not to enforce laws against vehicle trespass,' Schroeder stated in a news release. 'Every landowner in the state should be concerned, as should everyone who enjoys hiking, horseback riding, hunting, viewing wildlife or just listening to the natural quiet."
   Chip Sibbernsen cq , ranger for the Ogden district of the Wasatch-Cache National Forest, could not be reached for comment.
   kmoulton@sltrib.com
               

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RedMan
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Re: Ranchers side with Conservationists
Reply #1 - 03/14/06 at 15:02:16
 
Hmm, sounds like a basic case of established "right of way" that has existed to access the national forest for some time.

ORV/OHV use of the road should have no bearing whatsoever.

You cannot block access to an established right of way.  I'm glad he was fined.

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robert
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Re: Ranchers side with Conservationists
Reply #2 - 05/15/06 at 21:00:45
 
Redman, I'm glad he was fined also. All the more reason tho to close a gate if closed, don't tear up the trails and be as polite as possible whenever. I turn my quad off around horse people, hikers, mtn bikers and give them as much consideration as possible. I have never yet had a bad situation (just lucky) with ranchers/farmers, but no matter how polite I was sometimes you could just see it in their demeanor that they had been dealt a bad set of cards by some idiot who tore up their land, trail or gates. Most of the farmers/ranchers are just hard working folks like us who just want to be respected and asked for permission to allow passage.
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