Access to Public Land over Private Road

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tlerunner
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Access to Public Land over Private Road

Post by tlerunner » Fri Mar 10, 2017 12:11 pm

There is a neighborhood near mine that has private roads. There is a large sign discouraging others from entering. One of the roads in the neighborhood provides access to a forest service road on public land. Is it legal to use the private neighborhood road to access the public forest service road?
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Re: Access to Public Land over Private Road

Post by kaiman » Fri Mar 10, 2017 1:17 pm

tlerunner wrote:There is a neighborhood near mine that has private roads. There is a large sign discouraging others from entering. One of the roads in the neighborhood provides access to a forest service road on public land. Is it legal to use the private neighborhood road to access the public forest service road?
It depends on the situation. In many cases the Forest Service has easements on private roads across private property to get to public lands, in other cases private land owners don't allow access through their property to the public lands beyond. As a general rule, if you are unsure about access a quick call to the local Forest Service or BLM offices should be able to give you the information you need.
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Re: Access to Public Land over Private Road

Post by Teresa Gergen » Fri Mar 10, 2017 6:34 pm

^This.

My sister was a cartographer for the USFS. She was always drawing maps for lawyers when lawsuits arose over property owners posting signs indicating that the roads were not public when, in fact, *sometimes* they were legal. It depended on the situation with easements, but it's apparently common for property owners to overstep their bounds with roads through their property.
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Re: Access to Public Land over Private Road

Post by justiner » Sat Mar 11, 2017 3:43 am

Oh, I'd ask someone for permission before just going through. Mines are usually filled with some of the following:

* strangely located holes
* enormous equipment
* badly designed roads
* heavy machinery
* stressed out, gun-owning workers
* extremely large dogs that follow the commands of the latter

I don't know if claiming public right of way for access is a given fer sure.

This is a mine, in *Colorado*?
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Re: Access to Public Land over Private Road

Post by tlerunner » Sat Mar 11, 2017 7:16 am

Thanks for the replies. The roads are neighborhood roads which one is adjacent to Forest service land, where the forest service road starts. I will call the forest service.

Thanks!
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Re: Access to Public Land over Private Road

Post by peter303 » Sat Mar 11, 2017 9:54 am

Then there were cases where nearby private owners would try to close, hide, or sabotage public roads because they didnt like the traffic. An occasional issue in Boulder foothills.
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Re: Access to Public Land over Private Road

Post by acidchylde » Sat Mar 11, 2017 10:45 am

Kaiman pretty much covered it. Calling the FS would be the fastest route, though you can often also track down access easement related information through your county's assessor/clerk & recorder.

And private land owners can definitely restrict access across their land. There've been a few cases up here where this has been an issue. One FS road used to be a loop, but a private landowner with an inholding that the road passed through closed his land to access, so now it's a dead-end coming from either direction. Of course, said landowner still enjoys access to his property via the FS road he doesn't have to pay for any more than the rest of us... There's a similar case where a FS road popular with 4x4s passes through a State Land Board owned section up here (again, forest on either side). The SLB leases these out for various purposes, and it's up to the lessee and agreement how access will work. Until recently, it was open to everyone, but then it was leased by a new party. Part of the agreement is that if you allow general public access, you have to maintain the road. They didn't want to take the burden of that cost, so they closed it.

Something that has been brought up in cases like this before (more for trails than roads, and I think most recently in the thread about purchasing the top of Shavano) are prescriptive easements. This is where there's no formal agreement, but an easement exists by nature of historic use. Problem is that gets into court battles and such, and the FS isn't generally inclined to go to bat for a member of the public. They'll more likely 'ignore' the situation or close the road/access than defend the access unless it's for their own limited use.
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Re: Access to Public Land over Private Road

Post by TallGrass » Sat Mar 11, 2017 5:06 pm

There is another reason for a private road or street sign, and that's to designate that it is neither city or gov' maintained and thus be exempt from said standards. These are common in subdivision lots where developers don't want to scale back houses or deal with the hassle or restrictions for an up-to-code, 24' min. width road. To flip it over to public after the fact can be dissuasively costly to grade, widen, buttress, curb, drain, and even remove shade trees for the benefit of say city snow plowing, especially where the road has a high mile:acreage ratio (cost per home).
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Re: Access to Public Land over Private Road

Post by Scott P » Sat Mar 11, 2017 5:27 pm

It depends on the situation. In many cases the Forest Service has easements on private roads across private property to get to public lands, in other cases private land owners don't allow access through their property to the public lands beyond. As a general rule, if you are unsure about access a quick call to the local Forest Service or BLM offices should be able to give you the information you need.
======
My sister was a cartographer for the USFS. She was always drawing maps for lawyers when lawsuits arose over property owners posting signs indicating that the roads were not public when, in fact, *sometimes* they were legal. It depended on the situation with easements, but it's apparently common for property owners to overstep their bounds with roads through their property.
This is true. Call the local Forest Service or BLM. A lot of land owners do post public roads as private as well. In rural areas, it happens on a regular basis.
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Re: Access to Public Land over Private Road

Post by peter303 » Sun Mar 12, 2017 8:44 am

Another complication are mining laws of 1872 which allow 'free access' to a valid claim. There is substantial amount of case law that tries to expand this to recreation.
http://famguardian.org/publications/pro ... oway2.html
14ers are dotted by mining claims. The original industry of Boulder County was mining, mainly coal. So there may be thousands of claims across that county. I have seen news articles argue with some faint trail was tied to free access with occasional litigation.
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Re: Access to Public Land over Private Road

Post by spiderman » Sun Mar 12, 2017 9:16 am

Generally I wouldn't hesitate to drive down a road marked as private unless I am in Indiana or NE Georgia. The Neighborhood Watch in the dead center of the Indiana bible belt are extremely scared that undesirables from the poorer neighborhoods might infiltrate their racially pure areas. Fortunately with a light skin color the locals tend to be a tad bit friendlier. If you have a darker complexion, be extra cautious. I wouldn't want to risk my ass going on a marked Private Road in rural Georgia. That could take Private to a whole new level of meaning.
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Re: Access to Public Land over Private Road

Post by acidchylde » Sun Mar 12, 2017 1:51 pm

spiderman wrote:Generally I wouldn't hesitate to drive down a road marked as private unless I am in Indiana or NE Georgia. The Neighborhood Watch in the dead center of the Indiana bible belt are extremely scared that undesirables from the poorer neighborhoods might infiltrate their racially pure areas. Fortunately with a light skin color the locals tend to be a tad bit friendlier. If you have a darker complexion, be extra cautious. I wouldn't want to risk my ass going on a marked Private Road in rural Georgia. That could take Private to a whole new level of meaning.
As someone who grew up in central IN, my first reaction to reading this is... WTF are you smoking? Have you ever actually been there? I mean, I guess certain towns/areas do have a reputation and known presence of racist groups, and I lived 60 miles or so from the nearest one that comes to mind, but... It's *really* strange for me to see IN compared to somewhere in the deep south like GA. Beyond that, out here in the 'west' (having been here a bit more than 15 years now) I'd be much more concerned about being shot at or confronted by an armed landowner by driving down the wrong private road even with my super special while male privileges. Those types of landowners don't really care who you are or what color your skin is, just that you're on their land. This feels like a thread derailment, or maybe you just have a personal experience that has significantly colored your thinking.

The primary reason that private roads are posted as such and with whatever added on 'stay out' message that might go along with it, is that the people who live on it have to maintain it, and more traffic means more maintenance, which means more cost for them. Sure, having less traffic in the neighborhood and being more 'private' are considerations too, but most of the time when this issue comes up it's because excessive traffic, wear, and damage is occurring due to the amount of people using the road for access.
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