Wyoming Corner Crossing Fundraiser
From the beginning, Wyoming BHA has stood in firm defense of the four Missouri hunters who are being wrongly sued for civil trespass for accessing public lands by "corner crossing" in Wyoming.
“Corner crossing” refers to the act of stepping from one corner of an accessible parcel of public land to the adjoining corner of an inaccessible parcel of public land. It’s akin to moving pieces across a checkers game board. Corner crossing is neither explicitly legal nor explicitly illegal in the state of Wyoming. It is a critical issue for BHA, however, given its implications for public access to our public lands.
On May 26, the District Court of Wyoming found it legal to cross through private airspace when stepping from public land to public land over a shared public/private corner. While this decision is currently facing an appeal in the tenth circuit, this is a massive win for public access in Wyoming, and for the 8.3 million acres of landlocked public land across the west. This ruling establishes the legality of “corner crossing" in Wyoming, potentially paving the way the way for access to millions of acres in 11 Western states.
BHA has filed an amicus brief in the district court case as well as the current tenth circuit appeal. In its briefs, BHA maintains that the plaintiff in this case “cannot secure for itself the value of public land interspersed with its property by threatening trespass, since the government and its licensees (the public) have an equal right to access their lands.”
"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."
The landowner immediately signaled his desire to appeal the May 26 court decision in the 10th District Court of Appeals in Denver. As part of this ongoing legal process, two recent decisions have been handed down. First, on July 18th, the 10th District Court of Appeals court “identified a possible jurisdictional defect” that will stall, or possibly prevent the appeal from moving forward. Secondly, on July 31, Judge Scott Skavdahl refused to temporarily suspend the initial May 26 decision that corner crossing is not trespassing, thus denying a request from the landowner to do so as the appeal process works through the court system.
Despite those recent decisions, the case was officially appealed to the 10th District Court of Appeals on July 26th. The appeals process has begun with briefs from both parties being submitted throughout November, December and January of 2024.
Additionally, Elk Mountain Ranch owner Fred Eshelman has hired a group of high-profile lawyers, indicating a likely desire to take this court case as far as possible in the legal system, possibly as far as the U.S. Supreme Court. For more information checkout Episode 488 of The MeatEater Podcast for more details from lawyer Ryan Semerad. The fight for legal access to our public lands is not yet over, help today!
What You Can Do:
With contributions from public land owners across North America, more than $142,000 has been raised to aid in the legal defense of the hunters to get a fair and equitable trial in court. With the assistance of a fantastic group of lawyers for the Missouri Hunters and BHA, over $300,000 of donated time and legal support has been provided in this important public land access issue.
We believe no single private landowner should have the right to claim exclusive access rights to your checker-boarded public lands. Thousands of BHA members and supporters likewise have pledged their support for corner crossing and the ability of members of the public to legally access U.S. public lands.
Help us fight for public lands access goal by making a tax-deductible contribution today! All funds beyond the legal defense needs will be allocated to the continued support and efforts in the political fight in the legislature to make sure that corner crossing is a legal means of access between public land units for all hunters and anglers.