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    for dynamic hybrid logics prooftheory's Avatar
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    Rails To Trails is Over

    http://www.scotusblog.com/2014/03/op...s/#more-206146

    I will be surprised if any of the trails in question in high property value areas last. Apparently, the more recently converted trails are not covered by the lawsuit but still I'm not sure if things like the Washington and Old Dominion Trail are covered by this case or not.
    Last edited by prooftheory; 03-10-14 at 10:16 AM.

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    Senior Member cderalow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by prooftheory View Post
    http://www.scotusblog.com/2014/03/op...s/#more-206146

    I will be surprised if any of the trails in question in high property value areas last. Apparently, the more recently converted trails are not covered by the lawsuit but still I'm not sure if things like the Washington and Old Dominion Trail are covered by this case or not.

    Not likely. the right of way was never officially surrendered for the W&OD. They were sold to the predecessor to DVP, who sold the right of way to NVRPA in the 70's.

    NVRPA build the trail, which is now maintained in part by the US DoI and NVRPA.

    The C&O Canal towpath was never a railroad right of way, so this ruling has no effect on that.

    I think this applies a lot more to western states where the rights of way were surrendered and not sold.

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    The ruling applies to cases where the feds came in and took the land. Essentially telling landowners "We're putting a railroad through your property,and there is nothing you can do to stop it. They then created the easements to do so out of thin air.

    My read is that this is more of a western state issue where some smart landowners descendants are now giving the U.S. government the karma it deserves. Though it is a rock in the road for a national trail network, again, my read is this is about money, not closing trails. Pay for the land or pay a use fee and you get to keep your trail.

    What trails are affected is determined by what entity created the easement and how the land was acquired.
    Last edited by tom cotter; 03-12-14 at 07:52 AM.
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    for dynamic hybrid logics prooftheory's Avatar
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    The land that these railroads were built on was all public land which was then sold to private landowners. Basically the landowners bought land that they understood had a railway going through it and then 100 years later they are seeing a huge increase in the value of their land because the railroad went away. While I agree with the supreme court's decision from strictly looking at the laws I don't see how you could view this as "reaping bad karma" on the part of the government.

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    Senior Member robert schlatte's Avatar
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    Yes, this is case is about western former public lands in which the US government granted rights of way to railroad companies under an 1875 law. In the Supreme court case, the former public lands had been deeded to private parties expressly subject to the railroad's interest. When the railroad abandoned its right of way in 2004, the US brought a quiet title action for the right of way arguing that it retained a reversionary interest in the right of way which it had formerly owned. The landowner argued that the US deeded the entire fee interest which included the right of way in which the RR simply had an easement. Unfortunately, 70 years prior the US argued just the opposite of its position in the present case. In the case 70 years ago, the US argued the the railroad had only an easement for railroad purpose in the right of way which would prevent the railroad from drilling for oil and gas. Justice Roberts in the majority opinion said he was adopting in full the US position in the 70 year case.

    The case potentially affects rail trails which have already been built on former public land like in the case before the Court.

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    I don't think this hurts rail trails. It does prevent the government from violating the terms of easements granted for railroad use.

    If you agreed to have a train run through your front yard, and then 50 years later they convert it to an oil pipeline, wouldn't you be upset?

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    I am waiting for there to be cases where people are shot at and potentially hurt or killed by land owners out west because some people where cycling through on an old railroad easement.

    If these land owners are smart they get grant monies and such for having trails run through their properties. The smarter ones might open up little stands or bed and breakfasts along the way and create income from hikers, cyclists, and those using the trails. Very much like the pop-up towns that came up as the railroads were built and came through.
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    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    I think we need to take a breath and see how this shakes out. The state still has the power to take land for public purposes if needed through condemnation via eminent domain, though the constitution requires that landowners be compensated for the easement.

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    Supreme Court ruling re: Rails to Trails

    I know a lot of folks here in C&V enjoy riding on and enjoying the beautiful scenery along many paths that have resulted from the Rails-to-Trails movement. For that reason I thought this might be of interest here. The Supreme Court issued a ruling yesterday that could have a chilling effect on the "rails to trails" movement. You can read about it here. I sure hope this does not bring an end to "rails to trails", which I think is terrific.
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    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    I thought it was a bummer.
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    Senior Member CommuteCommando's Avatar
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    Not a big Fan of RTT. Crossing the country with bike trails is a great goal. Falling in love with the idea that the best routes follow railroad rights of way isn't. This is especially true where the ROW passes through urban areas and require trail designs to accommodate both ROW issues and local conditions and ordinances. I have seen this result in some stupidly designed trails that are usually avoided by regular cyclists.

    In those rural areas affected by the court ruling, Interstate highways, while not always ideal, offer an alternative, as well as abandoned and low use sections of old U.S. 66, among other highways.
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    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuteCommando View Post
    Not a big Fan of RTT. Crossing the country with bike trails is a great goal. Falling in love with the idea that the best routes follow railroad rights of way isn't. This is especially true where the ROW passes through urban areas and require trail designs to accommodate both ROW issues and local conditions and ordinances. I have seen this result in some stupidly designed trails that are usually avoided by regular cyclists.

    In those rural areas affected by the court ruling, Interstate highways, while not always ideal, offer an alternative, as well as abandoned and low use sections of old U.S. 66, among other highways.
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    It sounds bad for cyclists, but it might be good for the environment if it means rights of way can be made to disappear after their original purpose is completed. If logging roads would cease to exist, once logging is concluded, that might be a good thing.

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    Senior Member Dave Cutter's Avatar
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    I was under the impression that (of course with some localized exceptions) the rails to trails movement was pretty much near it's end anyway. Locally we have a long abandoned lumber and (more recently a) warehousing spur which is being developed. Weather or not this most recent court decision halts this spur or not. We are very much running out of unused (former) RR track areas.

    These last little "spurs" were for trains that most often ran goods and materials to and from manufacturing plants or large warehouses to the wheelhouse (downtown). Where loads were separated and compiled and paired with engines and scheduled for transport. Most of these last remaining miles have already been broken up and reused for other purposes.... with only bits and pieces remaining here and there.

    Then about two years ago Vice President Biden visited to announce plans to "revitalize" the Midwestern RR system with high speed passenger trains. His plan took the currently defunct RR (which is part of the rail to trails system) and will build new modern tracks and railways stations. It seems to me... that money has already been spent/allocated for stations and parking facilities.

    Locally I think the planners are looking at street and road easements as the new locations for MUPs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rhm View Post
    It sounds bad for cyclists, but it might be good for the environment if it means rights of way can be made to disappear after their original purpose is completed. If logging roads would cease to exist, once logging is concluded, that might be a good thing.
    Rudi, sustainable logging can be a good thing. Wild life thrives where loggers have cleared part of the forest and sunlight can then reach the ground. Trek through a forest with a thick canopy and you rarely see any wildlife let alone plant life. In all things balance is good.
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    I believe the basis of this is if property is seized or granted via eminent domain for one purpose (Ie, a railroad), the purpose cannot be retroactively changed. Given past eminent domain abuses, it is a reasonable ruling. Property taken under such auspices should be returned.
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    Get off my lawn! Velognome's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhm View Post
    It sounds bad for cyclists, but it might be good for the environment if it means rights of way can be made to disappear after their original purpose is completed. If logging roads would cease to exist, once logging is concluded, that might be a good thing.
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    Senior Member Kactus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poguemahone View Post
    I believe the basis of this is if property is seized or granted via eminent domain for one purpose (Ie, a railroad), the purpose cannot be retroactively changed. Given past eminent domain abuses, it is a reasonable ruling. Property taken under such auspices should be returned.
    If this is an eminent domain case I totally agree. Fortunately for Rails to Trails advocates, the majority of RR rights of way out west were granted to the RR by the Federal Government. The land adjacent to the ROW was then sold to private parties by the RR. Hopefully this is a case that wont affect those cases.
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    I also read that this is limited to national parks (not that this is good news); for instance, next door in Kansas all of the rails to trails programs are under state jurisdiction and (apparently) unaffected.
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    Cisalpinist Italuminium's Avatar
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    This is a sticky issue, with eminent domain not necessarily being the chief problem; the big problem obviously is right of way over private property. This is one of those fun hangovers from the middle ages, actually, when right-of-way was a sort of universal law. Ever since the enclosure movement in 18th century England lawsuits like these keep many a law firm in business.

    In my favorite riding area the same thing happened: private property clashed with communal interest when the gov. had to convert all kinds of lines used for hauling coal ceased to operate when the mines closed. The solution was to weave sections of the tracks into signposted bike/hike/MUP trails, usually centred on an easily accessible spot with parking space. This way, there are some GREAT high speed gravel grinding sections in the MTB routes there!
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    rhm
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velognome View Post
    They use helicopters now
    Quote Originally Posted by pastorbobnlnh View Post
    Rudi, sustainable logging can be a good thing. Wild life thrives where loggers have cleared part of the forest and sunlight can then reach the ground. Trek through a forest with a thick canopy and you rarely see any wildlife let alone plant life. In all things balance is good.
    (The order of the posts quoted is intentionally reversed)

    I agree! I have no objection to sustainable, environmentally conscious logging. I know the value of wood. Logging by helicopter is much better for the health of the forest than the the Old way that involved building roads. Logging, done right, is not a problem. Logging roads, however, open up the forest to all manner of secondary destruction.

    I don't want to hijack the thread, though. I'm really just trying to look on the bright side of the issue!

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    I am not a lawyer, but didn't the SCOTUS allow a take over of residential property in the northeast a few years ago? I do not know if any properties were occupier owned or rentals, but I remember that the court ruled in favor of business re-development.

    Back in the day, I was a realtor for a year or so (obviously not a good one). There was a concept named "highest and best use" - the premise was based on the idea that the more profit that could be realized out of any piece of property was its best use, regardless of environmental or social concerns.

    There was also a provision that would allow a "person" who encroached/used another's property to claim rights to it after a certain period of time (as long as no legal complaints were lodged by the encroached party).

    This looks bad for even existing trails.

    I'll be happy to stand corrected if I am wrong.

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    Senior Member RobbieTunes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dweenk View Post
    I am not a lawyer, but didn't the SCOTUS allow a take over of residential property in the northeast a few years ago? I do not know if any properties were occupier owned or rentals, but I remember that the court ruled in favor of business re-development.
    Yes. The SCOTUS decided development was the not to the detriment of that particular landowner, it was a little more than the typical "thorn in the side of the bulldozer people," I think. The ruling has rarely been used to expand eminent domain as we know it.

    On the Rails-Trails, it looks like in places where federal, state, or local governments want to retain "easement" and "right of access" rights, even for a MUP, it's going to be OK, but I'm sure it will be tested. Wisconsin's R2T has been in place for a long time, at least 25 years in some places. I believe it's state-run and maintained. There are businesses that have located near some of the routes for just the kind of traffic a MUP can generate, especially in the winter. Once the ATV/Snowmobile War came to a truce, things have remained quiet.
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    Senior Member rootboy's Avatar
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    I suppose if I lived in Wyoming and had an old rail line running through my property, I'd feel the same way as this guy does about someone changing the usage agreement. As much as I like re-purposing old rail beds into bike trails, I support private property rights.
    The agreement must be renegotiated. Not changed at will by a bureaucrat.

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