by Kathleen McLaughlin, The Guardian
“It’s become the new class war of the west, one public lands advocate I interviewed told me. It’s a class war contentious enough he didn’t want his name used beside that characterization.
There are no available statistics on land-access related violence, but throughout the west, anecdotes spring up regularly about chest-thumping, locked gates and confrontations, often with both sides armed. From Wyoming to Idaho to Utah, public access through private land is a hot-button issue in the west.
While public lands advocates battle the Trump administration over its plans to scale back national monuments, some private landowners – whether by tying up land access cases in courts or by putting up physical gates – present a rising threat to the millions of acres set aside for public use.
According to a study from the Center for Western Priorities, 4m acres of public lands in the Rocky Mountain West (Montana, Idaho, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico) are considered ‘landlocked’, blocked off by private landowners who control adjacent properties or roadways. Two million of those landlocked acres are in Montana.”