For Immediate Release
January 17, 2024
Contact: Devin O'Dea, 415-246-5329, [email protected]
Thomas Plank, 303-720-0111, [email protected]
BHA Ramps up Defense of Public Access in “Corner Crossing” Case
DENVER, CO. – Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) affirmed its role as the leading advocate for access to publicly owned land by adding its voice in the landmark “corning crossing” case in Wyoming. For the second time in the case, BHA submitted an amicus brief in defense of four hunters who were sued for trespass by a private landowner who claimed their momentary passage through his airspace violated his property rights. The hunters used a ladder to cross between adjoining corners of public lands, never setting foot on private land, and BHA, led by its Wyoming Chapter, has stepped up to raise over $140,000 for their legal defense.
"The value of public resources that remain land-locked behind corners across the West cannot be understated nor ignored," said Patrick Berry, BHA's President and CEO. "BHA is proud to represent the rights of everyday Americans who hold equal title to hunt, fish, explore, and enjoy land owned by all of us without fear of retaliation."
BHA’s legal advocacy comes on the heels of a favorable federal court ruling in 2023 finding that “corner crossing on foot in the checkerboard pattern of land ownership without physically contacting private land and without causing damage to private property does not constitute an unlawful trespass.” The case, Iron Bar Holdings vs. Bradly Cape et al, has been elevated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit and the outcome could secure access to millions of acres in the West.
BHA’s Western Policy & Conservation Manager Devin O’Dea added, "BHA was founded on the principle that our shared public lands and waters are worth fighting for. We thank the courts for giving us the opportunity to represent the hunters and anglers across the nation who seek the lawful right to access public lands in pursuit of their passions while respecting private property boundaries in the process."
As the basis for its position, BHA relied primarily on the Unlawful Inclosures Act, passed by Congress in the late 1800s to settle the range wars erupting between cattlemen and farmers over access and use of land in the West. The checkerboard mosaic of public and private lands created well over 100 years ago has resulted in unintended conflicts that remain unresolved.
For more information on BHA’s position on Tenth Circuit appeal of Iron Bar Holdings vs. Bradly Cape et al, read the full brief. For the amicus brief that BHA submitted in the original case, read more here.
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers seeks to ensure North America's outdoor heritage of hunting and fishing in a natural setting, through education and work on behalf of wild public lands, waters, and wildlife.