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  1. #1

    Default Outside Article on the Crazies - A couple Hunttalkers get famous

    Elitist Hunter

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    RobG and Kat, you are my heroes.

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    Thanks. Kat is still researching the history of these trails. Keep an eye on Brad Wilson's group "Friends of the Crazy Mountains." I don't think they have a webpage yet but they are on Facebook. He's mostly concerned with a similar trail on the west side, south of Ibex.

    If you didn't know, there was also an article in Bloomberg Businessweek about 6 weeks ago https://www.bloomberg.com/news/featu...nger-your-land
    "Fletcher, there's an old saying: To the victors belong the spoils."
    "There's another old saying Senator, don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining."

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    Both were good for sure. And both left me pretty pessimistic about the future of those public access points/trails. Would TNC be able to swoop in and buy a couple ranches on the open market for access?
    Elitist Hunter

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    TNC isn't in the access business. The Lazy K Bar guest ranch is located at the mouth of Big Timber Creek Canyon, where "my" trail starts. It went for sale in 2012 or so. The Forest Service was interested in buying the property which would have reduced much checkerboard, but they couldn't raise the money. Instead, it was bought by a billionaire, who, ironically, is not disputing the trail across his land since that portion does have a recorded easement. However it was a lost opportunity to clean up a lot of the checkerboard.

    It was actually the sale of this guest ranch that prompted the Hailstone to post the trail. The guest ranch was the major user of the trail. Once they were gone the Hailstone figured they could post it and nobody would know the difference, or the ones that did would be too afraid to use the trail.


    rg
    "Fletcher, there's an old saying: To the victors belong the spoils."
    "There's another old saying Senator, don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining."

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    I just got back from Sweet Grass County Clerk and recorders and road planning office. Brad Wilson, Carol and I hit the records, spent most of the day pouring through stuff - $53 in copies, if that gives you any idea. Things are missing from their files that I got from Park County or the Forest Service got years ago, but were not there now. They don't have all the old maps there, or the fuel tax maps, a number of things we couldn't find that are normal at other county offices.

    I will be organizing and mapping out the finds shortly.

    On the drive home, I got Chris' notification of his article, so I read it out to the group as we were driving back. Chris did a good job explaining the very complicated subject of prescriptive easements and the threat being posed to all the US process, not just the Crazies, I am very glad I reached out to him in October about this. Even more excited that he linked to the documents, so that people can see the facts for themselves. I was disappointed in Reel's article making it sound more like a wild west guns issue, than addressing the threat to prescriptive easements in the US.

    I will be putting up the Friends of the Crazy Mountains website, in about a month, now that I have gotten the bulk of PLWA's new site up. For now they have their Facebook and a loaner page on my site.

    Starving and need to eat, but glad the issue is getting better coverage.

    The TNC has purchased some of the Crazy Mountain land before, donating it to the Forest Service, helping to reduce some of the checkerboard on the east side.
    Last edited by katqanna; 12-06-2017 at 08:27 PM.

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    Oh, btw, I forgot to mention, that picture of the truck that is blocked in by two other vehicles, here is some of that story...

    Those people did not sign in at Page Carrocia Dringman's sign in to use Sweet Grass trail 122. So Pat Dringman, the Sweet Grass County attorney who was involved in Rob's case (asking him to contribute $500 to the Stockgrowers and Farm Bureau) and his wife, Page Dringman, also an attorney and the Director of Planning for Sweet Grass County, parked on both sides of the vehicle to harass them.

  8. #8
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    Whoa - do you know for a fact one of those cars was Pat's? Do the plates check out?

    Quote Originally Posted by katqanna View Post
    Oh, btw, I forgot to mention, that picture of the truck that is blocked in by two other vehicles, here is some of that story...

    Those people did not sign in at Page Carrocia Dringman's sign in to use Sweet Grass trail 122. So Pat Dringman, the Sweet Grass County attorney who was involved in Rob's case (asking him to contribute $500 to the Stockgrowers and Farm Bureau) and his wife, Page Dringman, also an attorney and the Director of Planning for Sweet Grass County, parked on both sides of the vehicle to harass them.
    "Fletcher, there's an old saying: To the victors belong the spoils."
    "There's another old saying Senator, don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining."

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobG View Post
    Whoa - do you know for a fact one of those cars was Pat's? Do the plates check out?
    I do not know if the vehicles registrations are to the individuals or to the Sweet Grass Ranch, I would like to look into that, though it would not be an indicator of who was driving and that photo is not distinct enough for plate identification. I should add the qualifier, that I was told by 4 different people, unrelated, about this event and the following discussion of it at a working group meeting where Page Dringman was present, that Page and Pat Dringman parked their cars a couple of inches, behind and in front of the car, because they had not signed in.

    It is possible the vehicles are registered under the ranch name. I came across a curious document yesterday, from a 2005 Sweet Grass County Commission meeting, Book 10, Page 365, stating, "Mark Stephens came in to talk to the commissioners about the fire department selling a truck to the Sweet Grass Ranch." I have friends with farms and ranches where the vehicles are registered to the business name, not an individual, and even within a family, multiple members drive vehicles, registration is not an indicator of driver.

    I do not know how the blocked vehicle got out of there. In my opinion, that was simply bullying, intimidation.

  10. #10

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    No matter the price of repairs I would ram both those vehicles if they blocked me in.
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  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by RobG View Post
    TNC isn't in the access business. The Lazy K Bar guest ranch is located at the mouth of Big Timber Creek Canyon, where "my" trail starts. It went for sale in 2012 or so. The Forest Service was interested in buying the property which would have reduced much checkerboard, but they couldn't raise the money. Instead, it was bought by a billionaire, who, ironically, is not disputing the trail across his land since that portion does have a recorded easement. However it was a lost opportunity to clean up a lot of the checkerboard.

    It was actually the sale of this guest ranch that prompted the Hailstone to post the trail. The guest ranch was the major user of the trail. Once they were gone the Hailstone figured they could post it and nobody would know the difference, or the ones that did would be too afraid to use the trail.


    rg
    Whoa whoa whoa. So the billionaire who own the Big Timber Ranch allows access due to the easement, but then the trail crosses the Hailstone, which used to allow access and no longer does? How in the F did you not win your case, it seems pretty straight forward.

    If TNC can't pony up then we need to LWCF to swoop in and save the day.
    Elitist Hunter

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    Quote Originally Posted by neffa3 View Post
    Whoa whoa whoa. So the billionaire who own the Big Timber Ranch allows access due to the easement, but then the trail crosses the Hailstone, which used to allow access and no longer does? How in the F did you not win your case, it seems pretty straight forward.

    If TNC can't pony up then we need to LWCF to swoop in and save the day.
    The Hailstone suggested in a letter that they would be open to a land swap to consolidate checkerboard. If that is a genuine offer this could be a win/win for all parties. The landowners don't like the checkerboard either, as they can't get to some of those sections. I think LCWF can be used to help that happen but I'm not sure.

    Regarding winning my case, it didn't go to trial so I neither won or lost. Had it gone to trial it was widely believed that I would have lost in the County Court regardless of the facts because the judge and prosecutor are elected and the power in that county are the landowners who want that trail closed. If they found me not guilty they would have been voted out of office. In addition, the prosecutor personally wants that trail closed so he had a disincentive to throw the case out (or recuse himself), which was the only reasonable thing to do.

    It was also widely believed I would have won on appeal to the district court in Livingston, which has more independence. However, the actual trial result wouldn't have decided the status of the trail, nor would it have prevented the next user from being ticketed and having to go through the crap I did. In addition going through the appeal would have used up thousands of dollars that was donated to me to protect the trail, and that money would be better used doing research on the history of that trail (and the low line trial on the west side). That research is happening now.

    The article made a mistake in saying I paid the fine and it is supposed to be corrected. My attorney and the County Prosecutor came to an agreement that both parties would walk away from the issue if I donated $500 to charity. After some negotiation we came to an agreement on what I thought was an appropriate charity (another story) and the prosecution was dropped. I can't say if that was the best decision in the court of public opinion as people think I caved, but now the money can go to groups like PLWA, MWF, BHA and Kat, who are working to permanently open this trail, rather than lawyers resolving a question that wouldn't open the trial.

    rg
    "Fletcher, there's an old saying: To the victors belong the spoils."
    "There's another old saying Senator, don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining."

  13. #13

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    Got it, or at least have a better handle on it. Though I guess I don't understand law enough figure out why if you won on appeal in the district court that wouldn't set the precedent for it being a public trail. Thanks Rob
    Elitist Hunter

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dinkshooter View Post
    No matter the price of repairs I would ram both those vehicles if they blocked me in.
    My Dodge in 4 Low probably could have self extracted from that predicament.
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    Quote Originally Posted by neffa3 View Post
    Got it, or at least have a better handle on it. Though I guess I don't understand law enough figure out why if you won on appeal in the district court that wouldn't set the precedent for it being a public trail. Thanks Rob
    Because the status of the trail is a civil issue and can not be decided in a criminal trial. While a dismissal of Rob's charge, or a not guilty verdict could have set precedent for future conflicts, they are not a binding precedent. In other words, just because Rob may have been found not guilty in the appellate court (I agree, you never would have won in Sweet Grass County) does NOT mean the next guy won't get cited for the same actions.

    Clear as mud?

    FWIW, I do think Rob made the correct choice. The funds will be much better used in seeking an overall resolution to the trail status, despite any illusions of "caving".
    Fear the beard....

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    We all need to stand with one another on issues like this. These crop up all over quite frequently. Let us know what we can do to help support this case and other similar ones.

    David

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    Thanks JLS, I can see the mud now.
    Elitist Hunter

    "Never let schooling [work] get in the way of your education" - Mark Twain

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    I would have given that ranch 1/2 hour to move their vehicles, and than backed right over that Jeep out of sheer rage. damage to my truck be damned. I'm not saying it would be the smart or even right thing to do, but I can see myself escalating to that point

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    I have been wondering since I heard about the incident and after seeing the picture, having a large suburban, what would be the ramifications (no pun intended) with the law? If a person blocked in, such as that, first took down their license plate numbers and a number of photos of the setting, if they then began back and forthing, ramming into their vehicles to finally clear a space to leave, what would be the law in such a situation?

  20. #20

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    When I “accidentally” blocked a gate with my car to a closed area that a turd opened and went up on his ATV, I received a ticket for harassment. Seems like they could have received the same.
    Last edited by Dinkshooter; 12-07-2017 at 04:55 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by neffa3 View Post
    Got it, or at least have a better handle on it. Though I guess I don't understand law enough figure out why if you won on appeal in the district court that wouldn't set the precedent for it being a public trail. Thanks Rob
    I'll add a little to JLS's comments. What I was cited for was Criminal Trespass. If you look at the code it is pretty specific, essentially if you enter a posted property you have committed Criminal Trespass. That part is pretty clear, and there was no dispute that I walked into a posted property. However, there are two ways to be found not guilty.

    The first way is to prove that the landowner did not have the right to post the trail. This would mean putting my criminal trial on hold and suing the landowner in civil court. The court would decide whether the trail meets the criteria for a prescriptive easement (basically five years of public use with the landowner's knowledge, but without his permission). If it does, then the question is settled - the trail is public. If it doesn't, it is also settled - the trail is private. While this way would settle the question, it is not a simple thing at all and it is extremely expensive - hundreds of thousands of dollars. I didn't want to pursue this option until we investigated the facts very carefully. We can always do this later as the question is unrelated to my trespass case.

    The second way to be found not guilty is to show you didn't have "intent" to break the law. With the first way shifted to the back burner, this would have been my only other option (besides pleading guilty or no contest). Conviction requires two things: breaking of the law in fact, and intent to break the law. For example, if your friend tells you to go to his house and bring back his TV set, and you accidentally go into his neighbor's house and grab their TV set instead, you aren't guilty of robbery because you had not "intent" to break the law. However, just because you aren't guilty doesn't mean it is legal to take the neighbor's TV.

    So guilt or not rests entirely on what my mindset was at the time I entered the property. What a screwed up thing criminal law is - the facts don't really matter, only what I knew or believed at the time. The next person would also have to show he also did not believe that the signs were legal. Of course nobody explained this to me until we were about ready to go to trial...
    "Fletcher, there's an old saying: To the victors belong the spoils."
    "There's another old saying Senator, don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining."

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    Quote Originally Posted by JLS View Post
    just because Rob may have been found not guilty in the appellate court (I agree, you never would have won in Sweet Grass County) does NOT mean the next guy won't get cited for the same actions.
    Unless Montana has a very weird approach to res judicata, an appellate judgement that a prescriptive easement existed would be binding on the county going forward. Of course that doesn't prevent local officials from being jerks, but it would prevent future findings of trespass of that property.
    "Freedom is NOT Free"

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    Quote Originally Posted by VikingsGuy View Post
    Unless Montana has a very weird approach to res judicata, an appellate judgement that a prescriptive easement existed would be binding on the county going forward. Of course that doesn't prevent local officials from being jerks, but it would prevent future findings of trespass of that property.
    i don’t know what res judicatory is but see my post above. My trial wouldn’t have been about the existence of a prescriptive easement. It’s pretty screwy.
    "Fletcher, there's an old saying: To the victors belong the spoils."
    "There's another old saying Senator, don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining."

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    Quote Originally Posted by RobG View Post
    i don’t know what res judicatory is but see my post above. My trial wouldn’t have been about the existence of a prescriptive easement. It’s pretty screwy.
    Ahhh, I hadn't gotten to your longer explanation at the time I replied. If your "victory" would have been based upon your intent, then you are correct, no relevant precident.

    FWIW - res judicata is a $10 word you get to use after you pay $75,000 for law school, but my favorite $10 lawyer word is, "notwithstanding", definitely worth the $75k to use that one every day. It means the matter has already been judged (and therefor cannot be further litigated by a party).
    "Freedom is NOT Free"

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