Corner crossing is not taking of private landowner property

2013-02-24T00:00:00Z Corner crossing is not taking of private landowner property Montana Standard
February 24, 2013 12:00 am

The Feb. 4 guest editorial by Chuck Denowh on corner crossing presented many inaccuracies.

Corner crossings do not constitute the taking of private property. Denowh mentions Montana ethics on private lands, but was silent on public lands. He mentions a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, but it doesn’t exist and no case number was mentioned. Nor does it exist in the state statutes. There is also no Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks statute or regulation on corner crossing.

There is, however, a Supreme Court ruling in Camfield v. United States which defines the Unlawful Enclosures Act of 1885 (43 U.S.C. 1061-1064) and the interference of obstructing access from private lands to public lands. The act, which is supreme over state law, states that “free passage of man or animal from place to place on the public domain.”

We believe the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court ruling also applies to public access for lawful purposes as defined in the UEA. This ruling involved the Bureau of Land Management and state lands, and the UEA of 1885 needs to be considered in the corner crossing issue today.

Moreover, the federal Taylor Grazing Act reinforces the UEA’s mandate that access to public lands be preserved: “Nothing contained in this subchapter shall restrict the ingress and regress over public lands for all proper and lawful purposes.” (43 CFR U.S.C. 315e.)

Corner crossing does not create a nuisance, injury or economic impact to private property. The corners are public property. The public already has the right to use public land and the UEA forbids the obstruction of access to and on public lands. A private landowner cannot prevent access to and on public land as defined in the UEA for both wild animals and man. We recognize many Montana landowners cooperate fully in the landowner-sportsmen issue.

A recent case near Anaconda involved corner crossing for hunting by local residents on public state lands. After harvesting two bull elk, they were confronted by the Rock Creek Cattle Co. and FWP warden. The warden issued citations and confiscated the elk.

The evidence proved otherwise in court. The hunters used Google Earth and GPS to verify their location and the location of corner markers. The judge dismissed all charges after viewing the evidence. The warden acted without cause and no regulation or statute on corner crossing.

But when did it become illegal to use state land for lawful purposes? The hunters were never compensated for loss of the two bull elk and no formal apology.

The issue of public land access for lawful purposes and enjoyment and the use of public lands, federal and state, will not go away. As public land access becomes more difficult and the value of wildlife increases, the use of corner crossing becomes more important to be pursued in the legal arena and application of the UEA of 1885.

Jack Jones

3014 Irene St.


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(2) Comments

  1. Standmyground
    Report Abuse
    Standmyground - October 22, 2013 12:26 am
    I beg to differ with you, Orion. I don't have any rich buddies nor do I hunt. I enjoy the wildlife that lives in this area, and am sick of seeing animals with their shoulder blown off by a bad shot. standing at my fence unable to jump it. And the gunshots. Would you allow me to set up a duck blind in YOUR back yard and listen to me make a racket and disrupt your peace and quiet. .I've tried , but the town folk are leaving me notes telling me it is a trail head and to check the forest service map.... OK, after 20 years living here, I have a trailhead? How about a ticket for trespassing with an accompanying photo on the cell? I don't appreciate the disrespect of these people who trample over my home packing a firearm. No thanks.
  2. Orion
    Report Abuse
    Orion - February 24, 2013 6:03 pm
    The ONLY reason the land owners want restriction is to allow for their own private hunting grounds for them and their rich buddies. If access is denied then all hunting should be outlawed on land locked public property.

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