Recently, the State of Utah has been making eminent domain news as it seeks to condemn property from the federal government. Now, one California County is looking at a less drastic means of gaining some control over federal property.
On April 6, the San Benito County Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 to reopen 25 miles of previously closed County roads. While deciding to reopen its own roads might normally garner little attention, this decision is interesting because the roads are located within land owned by the federal Bureau of Land Management. The roads were closed in 2008 when the BLM ordered that area closed to the public.
The County's move was targeted at regaining public access to the BLM land. An April 7 article "County to feds: They're our roads!" posted at World Net Daily, quotes Don Amador, Western Representative for the BlueRibbon Coalition:
"When the federal government ignores the will of the people, local voters and users that visit the area have little choice but to look elsewhere for relief. Up and down the state, I see a growing number of counties who are joining with the people in defense of historic access to federal lands," Amador said. "Today's vote to reopen the roads for street-legal vehicles should be a clear signal to the BLM that their effort to make the Hollister Field Office a 'Human Free Zone' is going to be challenged."
The County also voted to endorse "Alternative A" of the BLM's draft Resource Management Plan for the area, which would reopen the area to the vehicular access. By contrast, an April 7 report by the BlueRibbon Coalition reports that "[t]he BLM's preferred Alternative E functionally closes the area to meaningful vehicular access."
Not surprisingly, officials at the BLM question the County's tactics, and maintain that while the County roads may reopen, the surrounding property will remain closed. The World Net Daily article reports that the BLM has "asked the county to clarify how it intends to proceed since while the county roads in the region can be opened, the BLM land remains off-limits." It will be interesting to see how things play out.
Rick Rayl is an experienced litigator on a broad range of complex civil litigation issues. His practice is concentrated primarily on eminent domain, inverse condemnation, and other real-estate-valuation disputes. His public ...
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