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Corner-Hopping Defendants Move For Dismissal

Photo Cedit: Mike Eastman

If you’ve hunted the West much, particularly Wyoming, you’ll understand the complexity surrounding public access through private lands, corner-hopping and the tenuous relationship between private landowners and public land recreationists like hunters. Also, if you’ve been paying attention to this never-ending saga you’ll have noticed that last fall a group of hunters from Missouri used a ladder to cross from one section of public land to another without setting a physical foot inside of the private land sections on either side yet were cited for criminal trespass under Wyoming state law.  

Well, an attorney for one of these men has moved for dismissal of the charges claiming the following… 

Dismissal is warranted because federal law “prohibits any person from preventing free passage over or through public lands,” the motion states. “Of course, then, a person must have the freedom to travel from one section of public land to another distinct, but physically adjoining section of public land,” the filing reads.

“[T]he state’s application of trespass law actually conflicts with federal laws,” Semerand wrote. “Accordingly the State’s application of Wyoming’s criminal trespass statute here is preempted by the federal law on point such that this prosecution ought to be dismissed.” https://wyofile.com/corner-crossing-defendants-move-for-dismissal-of-trespass-charges/?fbclid=IwAR1riOEQy_8BJJG0zJqiRznb6VNo3pnc6Z5OkTeVoEdowWXoGo2yfq5r2RE

It will certainly be interesting to see how this all shakes out as it could have extremely large ramifications for the future of public land access across the West. I do think that there has never been a more important time to be good stewards of the land we hunt on whether public or private as the surest way to lose access to both is to abuse the privilege of its use. 

Now for the fun part… what say you? Dismissal or Prosecute?

About Todd Helms

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34 comments

  1. Brandon McHenry

    DISMISSAL!

    This is such a huge problem in “checkerboard” areas. SO much public land is blocked because of these corner crossing tresspass laws.

    • Gerald Brunckhorst

      Brandon McHenry, YES! DISMISSAL…
      I grew up in Montana in the 70’s and 80’s. It was a time of easy land access yet a time of extreme change. Much of the area I explored with my brother and friends was checker-boarded. In fact the tiny town of Checkerboard is near the center of our stomping grounds. At one time we could count on an easy conversation and a handshake to access almost any land. In fact we occasionally and unknowingly found ourselves on private land. Normally we simply did our usual cleanup of a camp and moved to public land. Several times the landowner approached us, asked a few questions then asked us to follow a few simple rules during our visit on his land.
      This changed in the 80’s. New landowners began arriving on the scene, purchasing properties once belonging to generations of a single family. Trails we once used to access public land became inaccessible. County roads, thought to belong to the public, were locked. Even public accesses, without enough use, were eliminated by greedy minds. People dismissed common sense, checked every legality, forgot about their fellow man. Old timers occasionally kept to a handshake, although they grew suspicious of everyone. It seems as if a magic line in time had been drawn.
      As a 9, 10 and 11 year old I was warned about the changes coming (a new land grab). At age 12 I was shot at for the the fist time, yes a bullet was intentionally placed in the ten feet separating my buddy and I. This type of person has changed how land use is viewed, through selfish eyes. It’s a wanting of control over the world without regard for the common man. Unfortunately we keep edging closer to what our forefathers originally fought to abandon.

  2. If they want to landlock public land then they should have to pay property tax on said land at recreational land tax rates.

    • Gerald Brunckhorst

      Gary Everton, I completely agree with you. The continued babysitting of this corner hopping law is a true example of selfish intent. Even those who support trespass charges for corner hopping, instinctively know in their hearts, this is wrong and a selfish control of land belonging to everyone.

  3. What a joke ! I 3 year old child can understand this issue anc write one simple sentence into law and solve this. But no let’s spends years and bucket loads of money to solve this ultra simple problem.
    If it’s public land and citizens have a right to access and use it then specifically outline crossing rule.
    White msn created the concept of land ownership – to natives it was beyond comprehension as were fences. It’s ALL “made up” rules by white man. So make a new rule – such as you as public citizen have the right to access the land u supposedly own. Only allowed to step over the corners – problem solved. So Damn stupid it’s beyond belief!

    • I totally agree and ran into this issue years ago where the landowner parked at the corner so he could turn your license plate into the authorities. Nothing but a landowner being a jerk. 40 yards across the corner of his land to get to 2000 acres of public land. The same jerk that was complaining about the elk eating his hay and the bears and cougars killing his sheep. Some people just get a high over having control. I’m a landowner too and I will go out of my way to help people hunt and get their game as long as they are honest with me which I have found out that most sportsmen are.

      • Well put, landowners in many states abuse the rights of masses of people for gain of a select few claiming private only access. It is bad enough that these “landowners” get to use those lands as if their own to graze, drive on, guide on, collect hunter access fees, etc, They cannot be allowed to harass anyone, hunter or non-hunter, accessing these public federal lands which their contracts allow, but they should have no right to fence to the corner or prohibit access to anyone. This has to change and open up more access to landlocked lands. We have had bully landowners (not all are this way thankfully) in other states close access without providing options or illegally block. Bogus and time to make a difference for the larger public rights. Next they need to open up the waterways, another bogus law prohibiting access through land.

    • Dismissal….if it’s not accessible it’s not public…

  4. I agree that if the land is public land then the public has a right to access. Many private land owners lock up the public land with these strange laws and then use it for their benefit. Lets make it simple..corner crossing permitted with a set width ,public land to public land only

  5. Dismissal. Come on why should one person control the public right to land of many. This is easy. As Randy Moss says…Come on man!

  6. Dismissal. Public lands should all be made accessible to public. Montana has thousands of acres of land locked public ground that is landlocked. Put an end to this.

  7. Dismissal, if you fly over private property with a helicopter and land on a piece of public land to hunt that is legal but if you step over a fence and do not touch either‘s private property you get a trespassing ticket, “what is the difference”? All public land should have an access point!!!

  8. Air space, the corner is exactly air space. One foot on public and the other on public crossing a corner should and shall be legal access.

  9. Dismissal

  10. It is time this issue is resolved once and for all, corner crossing needs to be allowed. Also what about the land locked pieces of public property. The land owners who own the surrounding land need to be made to allow some form of access. Enough is enough.

  11. How is public land owned by everyone, but its owners (the public) are denied access to their own property?

  12. Dismissal you can bet that who ever turn the hunters in or who blocks the land is hunting the public land their selves. They have no more right than the next person

  13. I was shown a location that had a culvert cross a road out of a federally owned section. To either side of it, were barbed wire fence and posted signs and then a space, six foot wide, where the land owner did not own that part of the section that was public. It was a gateway to a canyon that had mule deer and grouse and trout that got hung up in puddles when the Poudre River levels dropped in late summer. You could fish with your hands. The Game warden called out by the Rancher, was perplexed when I showed him my official US FOREST SERVICE map for the area I worked in as a summer Temp with the Red-Feather District in Fort Collins. They had an interesting and lively conversation after that and we were allowed to park and hunt as we saw fit. I was asked not to advertise this fact, but it was back in 1982 . Back then, a local hunt club leased the land from the rancher.

  14. its about time the all powerful rancher bullshit ends in Wyoming. Never met a greedier bunch!
    Wyoming is the worst! First question everyone asks is “where ya from” so the can decide how big of an asshole they want to be when speaking with you.

  15. Dismissal and fine the complaining land owner for harassment.

  16. Prosecute…. So they can appeal to a higher court and actually get resolution to the issue. If they dismiss, nothing will ever come of this. Listen to Your Mountain podcast, episode 146 where Nephi and Dave discuss this exact case!

    • Chase Montgomery

      When you have democratic idiots making laws , what can we really expect!! Classic case of political BS. This is just one issue , we have many! It’s time to take our (country) back…..

      • Would help, but a dismissal based upon the defendants motion and accuracy of federal law that “prohibits any person from preventing free passage over or through public lands,” overriding this state prosecution, will set precedence. And at minimum, it will send a clear message to other Wyoming counties, who some already are timid to prosecute corning crossings of public lands. I hope it is dismissed, and is long overdue.

  17. Dismisall, a person can step from public land to public land without touching private land. Private land does not include the airspace above ground level.

  18. The part that really pisses me off is that the “private land in the checkerboard was originally government (our) land that was given to the railroads. The land has changed hands and now the new owners want to charge for use or bar entry.
    Access needs to be allowed legally to the public sections.

  19. Legally they are public lands, legally there should be access, that simple.

  20. Dismissal! Long overdue! Public lands should be accessible. And at the same time, we as public land owner/users next to private land owners need to step up to the plate and help protect and respect private land owners property.

  21. Lawrence Wilson

    Commonly, privat land owners are required to give an easement to others who may hold title to other landlocked parcels of property within the bounds of their property. I can see no reason why public property should be viewed differently.

  22. Dismiss especially in Wyoming. Currently landowners there are SELLING access to public ground which is completely encircled by private.

  23. Prosecute – Then they can take it to the WY Supreme Court and get this non-sense resolved for good. It’s public land and corner crossing should be allowed, PERIOD.

  24. Dismissal! Public Lands should have easement regardless of what is around it. Landowners should be responsible for allowing access through or creating an access point to the public, otherwise if they deny access they should be required to lease the land at standard rates per acre. As public land users and tax payers we should have a right to access. If someone bought the sidewalk in front of your house would it be reasonable to deny you access to your home?

  25. Dismissal. The ranchers should not be able to tie up all land and use it as there own. They are getting a real sweet deal for their livestock now. $1.35 a month for a cow and calf or 7 sheep to graze for a month. You can’t even feed a house cat for one day for that cost. They want all the benefits and control all access to land they don’t own so they can sell the hunting rights to make extra money. Now is the time to push this phony law to the limit.

  26. The one and only Mahoney

    Public land is not free, it is paid for by taxes and state use fees. We the people pay for those lands and therefore deserve to have access to it.

    To deny the public that access is taxation without representation. We’ve been there and dealt with this before! Haven’t we?

    Time to take private cattle off public lands, time to stop landlocking public lands, time for change!

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