Forest Service plans road relocation to solve Bridger Mountains access dispute

by Michael Wright, Bozeman Chronicle

Forest officials want to move a road in the northern part of the Bridger Mountains to resolve a public access dispute with a landowner over whether the original road is public as it passes through a piece of private land.

The U.S. Forest Service released a proposal Monday that would relocate Forest Service Road 642, otherwise known as Middle Fork Sixteen Mile Road, onto public land at a spot where it crosses private land. The owner of the land the road passes through built a gate across the road meant to prevent public vehicle access, and the Forest Service is electing to move the road rather than try to defend their claim to a public easement.

“I think this is a much better solution for the public,” said Lisa Stoeffler, the Bozeman district ranger.”

 The road is north of Flathead Pass, accessed from the east side of the Bridgers near Sedan. It leads to the Troy Creek trailhead, but well before drivers reach the trailhead they hit the orange gate marking where the road begins crossing land owned by John Logan, who owns Big Sky Guide and Outfitters.

“It has been disruptive, particularly for hunters,” said Marna Daley, a Forest Service spokeswoman.

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.