Class war in the American west: the rich landowners blocking access to public lands

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.”

Public Land/Water Access Association Inc. or PLWA,
is a citizen group organized and operated under the Montana nonprofit corporation act.
The Internal Revenue Service has made a determination that PLWA qualifies as a tax- exempt
organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and that it is a public charity.

Articles and Information on this site represent the opinion of the writer and are not intended as legal advice.
Legal counsel may be needed in dealing with specific access situations and issues.