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WY Corner-Crossing: Next Stop D.C.?

If you have been following the now-famous corner crossing case through our blog or other news outlets reporting on the case, it will be no surprise that the defense has filed a petition to move this to federal court. The petition filed makes the case that because the incident happened in Wyoming, involves federal land access, has nonresident defendants and the landowner involved is from the east coast, the case and its moving parts belong in federal court. 

As part of this petition, the defendants have asked for a trial by jury. The trial would likely revolve around the Unlawful Inclosures Act of 1885 which was designed to allow the public to have access to federal land. 

So what does this mean for all of us wondering if there will be a clear answer on whether or not corner crossing is legal? Well the outcome of this case has the potential to give access to 1.6 million acres of public land that has been previously tough at best to recreate on and impossible at worst. Most of this land is part of the checkerboard landscape that passed from the federal government to the different railroad companies during westward expansion. Mobile mapping tools have accelerated the public’s interest in using these lands due to their high visibility of them on maps and then the ease of which people can find the corners to cross from one section to another.

On the other end of the spectrum, a ruling could come in where access remains murky and not much is resolved. Personally, I am hoping for a clear cut answer to this question as I have seen it argued about regularly on hunting forums for years.

So the question then is, what do you think? Will this case make it to trial? 

 

If you haven’t been following the case, you can find other articles written by our team covering the subject here: 

https://blog.eastmans.com/corner-hoppers-face-civil-suit/

https://blog.eastmans.com/wyo-lawmakers-double-down-on-corner-hopping/

https://blog.eastmans.com/wyoming-corner-hopping-turns-into-hunter-harassment/

https://blog.eastmans.com/corner-crossing-conundrum-in-wyoming/

 

For the latest detailed article on this case read here:

https://wyofile.com/corner-crossers-reach-for-federal-court-access-to-1-6m-western-acres/

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16 comments

  1. To get an impartial jury in this case will require getting about 2,021 miles away from Wyoming. If it’s not good for a rancher, what good is it? And that’s God’s truth in Wind-oming.

  2. Yes long overdue….need a clear answer in black and white….no more grey area bullshit…its public land….I.make it accessible

  3. I really think this needs to go to a federal court and jury. This is a long overdue topic that needs to be settled once and for all. We as outdoor enthusiasts need to be able to access federal lands that our tax dollars support. These lands were set aside for all to enjoy not just whoever owns the land bordering them. In my opinion land locking should be illegal. It’s a simple fix swap land for land with a in and out right away. To me it’s not rocket science but it has sure turned out to be!! Greed is a terrible thing and should be overcome and done away with. Hope everyone has a safe and awesome 2022 hunting season!! God bless

  4. Orion-Cazadores

    Hmmm, not a good start already ! When the hunters are the “defendants”. Having to defend yourself against the plaintiff/ landowner. The plaintiff can/often has free representation or the State/Federal Govt enters the charge against and represents them. Strike 1. The deck is loaded to one side. Crazy to begin with that it’s illegal to cross from public To public – if no contact is made onto the private parcel. Technology these days nearly allows this ability – realizing even GPS has some minor levels of inaccuracies – which can be further resolved by certified land survey – for instance using a “total station” etc.
    then this comes down to airspace which is where the plaintiff took it. Case law exists in this area already and those that have managed airports know about artificial surfaces and they exist both in law and federal regulations!
    An average attorney doubtfully can win this case for the Defendants. Optimistically we’re all pulling for these guys but the system favors the plaintiff already just by side of the docket! Keep ur fingers crossed !

    • Gerald Brunckhorst

      Orin, great thoughts and perspective on this issue, all of us following this case have our fingers crossed. Many of us who have worked for ranchers and particularly outfitters and guides utilizing landlocked lands see the extreme unfairness. I sure hope the court and a jury can see it the way we do! Here in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, landowners have the privilege of paying small grazing fees, using the land as their own, guiding the land to harvest publicity owned/ managed wildlife, etc. etc. we need a compromise which allows everyone fair access!

  5. Ranchers and Farmers that wish to block public land should be forced to pay Property Tax on that land at Recreational Land Tax Rates. Problem solved

    • They shouldn’t even be able to lease the land if they won’t let me in! Keep your cattle and paid hunters off my land!

    • Gerald Brunckhorst

      I agree, although some ranchers use the public property for grazing, haying, calving, guiding hunters, harboring wildlife, among many other uses (at small piddly fees. If they begin paying taxes LOOKOUT! I can see the argument of “just let me buy it then.”

  6. I agree with all comments above. Public land access should not be blocked by private land owners, period! Every corner should be considered a public access easement. Parcels which are totally “land locked” should be negotiated for public access easement, which might involve land trades with adjoining private land owners. If a parcel in inaccessible to the public, it should also be inaccessible to adjoining private land owners. If they have grazing leases on that land, they should only be allowed to access to work their stock, not to recreate (hunt or fish). Interesting that the landowner in this case is from the east coast – not even a WY resident? Talk about greed.

  7. I’m an NR hunter in Wyoming and I think it’s ridiculous that non residents are pushing the envelope and trying to jump corners. Do you wonder why the residents of Wyoming don’t feel bad when tag allocations get cut to 10%? They have a non resident landowner fighting non resident hunters regarding hunting access in their state.

    Realistically you cannot accurately jump a corner unless there is a USGS post on the corner. Handheld cell phone systems are no where near accurate enough.

    • AT you seriously think non resident hunters are the only ones upset about the land locked “public” land? I know people who live in Wyoming and they have nothing good to say about the out of state land owner in this case or his charging 10k to hunt on “public” land.

      • The residents I know from WY don’t corner jump, don’t expect they should be able to corner jump, and really don’t expect a decision that allows corner jumping in the future.
        The checkerboard parcels that have road access and actually include cover and water for game are generally well known and those parcels do get hunted.
        If any WY residents want to comment on expectations for corner jumping that may be beneficial for the group.

    • The flaw in this statement is the power players in WY were moving to reduce the NR tag allocation BEFORE this became an issue. That’s not true, tag reduction has been in motion for about a decade. Second, this only confirms that WY power players in WY believe they are entitled to benefit (own) the checkerboard of public land for free. This hurts non-resident AND resident hunters alike.

      The big WY landowners have over played their hand because federal law may find an implied easement (reserved at the time of granting the fed land to the state of WY) that actually traverses the private owners’ land through vehicles/atvs and not just corner hopping.

  8. The hunters have to take it all the way through the criminal process because the land owner had filed a civil suit against them. If they plead out then that hurts them in civil court. Even if they win, once the civil case gets rolling the mere cost of fighting a civil case against a rich landowner will bankrupt them. Once the dust is settled, even if they get a ruling that they didn’t break the law, the threat of civil litigation will get the landowner what he wants. It’s really sad but thats probably what will happen. Even if they take the civil case to it’s end, all the landowner has to do is get a $1 ruling and the hunters have to pay all his legal fees, which will be astronomical. If it doesn’t look like the landowner will win, he just has to keep stringing it along, racking up cost until the hunters run out of money. I don’t see how this ends well for public land hunters.

  9. I would hope that a clear answer would come forth about corner crossing on public land……land that is owned by all of us. If it does not get resolved in a favorable way for the public, I would also hope that other groups would pick up the fight to get it resolved. This is not about private land……it is public land which many private landowners have used for years for their benefit at no cost.

  10. I agree with most of the comments presented. Private land owners should not have the right to lock up our public lands. This whole issue is money driven.

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