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Unread 08-04-2011, 11:40 PM   #1
davidsonlaw
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Wheeler Pass Closure?!?!?

I haven't seen anything about this here on jeepforum.com, but apparently some lady up in Cold Creek is trying to get the Wheeler Pass Road closed on the Cold Creek side, and the US FS appears to be going along with this. I wheeled up there a few weekends ago and found this:



The sign was kinda awkwardly placed and I couldn't tell if it was really referring to the route I was taking or pointing to another road, so I kept driving. I didn't encounter anything to hinder my drive and kept going on my merry way. I went over the top and went down into Pahrump as if nothing was going on, though there was less traffic than I expected. I saw a similar sign at the edge of the Spring Mountain National Rec Area boundary for folks driving up from Pahrump, but that was it.

However, I've been seeing indications from people in a local club I belong to that one of the landowners in Cold Creek is taking it upon herself to obstruct the road and I've heard tell that she is parking trucks in the road to block traffic.

To add insult to injury, the brain trust at the US FS doesn't seem to want to make an issue of this, and has decided to close down the route insofar as it crosses this private property. One acquaintance of mine was even told that they are starting the paperwork to start the environmental review process to construct a new road bypassing the private property. The problem here is two-fold: one, this process will take years (best case), during which time Wheeler Pass will be blocked off from the south; and two, there's a good chance that the net result of the environmental review process is that the route never gets reopened. Our environmentalist "friends" are always looking for a chance to close off whatever unpaved routes that they can, and you can bet that they'll be gunning at any chance they get.

This is when my attorney spidey-sense starts tingling. The fact of the matter is that this route has been used for decades (at least) by the public and this lady doesn't have the right to close this route down. I'm off a mind to put together a group of plaintiffs and sue this landowner (and all her neighbors, they'll be thrilled) to get judicial recognition of the public's right to utilize this road.

So, your thoughts? I'm not looking for anyone to hire me to do this. I'm happy to do it pro bono unless I am able to recover fees as a part of this process. There will be expenses, and if anyone wants to chip in on those, I would be much obliged, but I'm not asking for anyone to pay for my time. I'm interested in what experiences you all have had with this road, how long you've been riding it, whether you've had problems accessing it, etc. Reply here or shoot me a PM. I'd love to talk to any of you about this.

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Unread 08-05-2011, 08:31 AM   #2
DRAKEOFFROAD
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I've never been up there but it's on my list. I will say a guy I race dirt bikes with was telling me that they were up there about a month ago. I guess there's an area with like some cattle corrals or something of the sort. They were on bikes and the lady was physically there and was actually stopping traffic and turning everyone around saying that she owned the property and the road was hers.

If you are really serious about trying to tackle this, remember, you've got more then just the jeep enthusiasts to back you. Dirt bike guys and quads are also out there recreating. If you wanted to speak to my friend first hand for whatever reason about their experience let me know and I can put you in touch.

Not sure the law in Nev but I know in Az that from the description of cold creek it would qualify as a legit road and there's no way a single person could shut it down legally. Az has some written laws defining dirt roads as roads depending on their history basically.

Khris
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Unread 08-05-2011, 10:13 AM   #3
VegasMatt
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When I went up there, it is very clearly marked what is the road (with forest service road markers) and what is a private drive. Has anyone checked to see whether this lady does, in fact, own the land under the road? Or is she just blocking the road because it goes adjacent to her property?

In case you haven't seen this before, the county has a really cool web tool to search property records. Might be worth taking a look to see if the road even goes on private property, and if it does is there is an easement tied to it?
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Unread 08-05-2011, 10:24 AM   #4
DRAKEOFFROAD
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I haven't talked to my friend in about a month or so but I know he said he was going to possibly look into it a bit to see what the heck was going on. If I remember the story right and according to him she was claiming to "own the road". Who knows is she's some senile cat lady swinging a broom at people or what but she's there... I'll pass this link on to him and maybe if he's got some 1st hand info he'll post up. Again, this is a dirt bike perspective, wasn't a jeeper.
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Unread 08-05-2011, 10:39 AM   #5
VegasMatt
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She very well may own the road, but if there is an easement tied to it, which I'd have to imagine there is given that it's a dang forest service road, there ain't jack she can do about people using it.
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Unread 08-05-2011, 01:32 PM   #6
davidsonlaw
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Just to answer some of the questions raised, and update the discussion a bit ...

I have been looking at the Clark County Assessor's tool online to look at the private property that the Wheeler Pass Road goes over, and there is some. However, as there was no crazy lady in the road the last time I went through, it is unclear to me exactly which landowner is the one causing the ruckus. If anyone here, or the friends of anyone here, could give me a hand with this, it could help get the ball rolling.

The fact of the matter is this, from my review of the public records, I can't see that there is an easement of record. In other words, no one has created a writing to memorialize the easement and gotten it recorded in the county records.

Some of the non-federal land up there has been dedicated to the county for roads, but none of those strips have been made into roads, and they just put this roads at the boundaries of rectangular parcels without regard to topography. The net result is that roads are unlikely to be built within the boundaries set forth because of elevation concerns, IMHO.

Nevada law allows for the creation of a public easement through the use of the public over a specified amount of time and under certain conditions, all of which are satisfied here. I think that we would be very successful.

I'll be putting together a group in the next little bit. IF you want to be included going forward, send me a private message or leave me contact info here. I'll use this thread to continue to recruit for this as well as to give updates suitable for public consumption.
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Unread 08-05-2011, 02:03 PM   #7
Dr. Marneaus
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Thanks for tackling this! Thats bullcrap, people jsut want to control everything....

Sorry I'm ultra bitter about this stuff lately as I'm battling my HOA on a daily basis as well because some woman on my street thinks she controls my life...
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Unread 08-05-2011, 05:33 PM   #8
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I was at the Vegas valley 4 wheelers meeting when the BLM guys were there. According to them she does in fact own the land aka its private property.

If people drove through your backyard you would have every right to put a fence up or disallow it. Not sure if it really matters how long she has owned it or how long it has been an established trail, but private property is private property - basically the message we got from them

Your best bet would to try and find a similar case somewhere else in the country where a trail through private property was allowed fo remain open

If you have any questions about anything that was discussed there I'd be happy to try and help
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Unread 08-05-2011, 11:32 PM   #9
davidsonlaw
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I've been able to find out who the owner in question is, and I have been able to look at what she does (in fact) own, and what she doesn't.

To respond to the BLM guys, she owns property there, but it's an established trail and she can't close it without infringing on an established right the public has to access it. The Courts will agree on this one. The road has been there longer than she has, and if I have to actually take this to court I'll be asking the court to require her to take down the gates she put up and establish that the public has a right of way across the middle of her property. I'm pretty confident that will be successful as well.

It doesn't matter so much how long she's owned the property (she bought it in 2002). What matters is that it's been an established trail for more than five years, nobody was hiding it (how could you?), and almost as importantly, it was an established trail for decades before she ever bought it. She can't even claim that she didn't know the road existed when she bought it ... it's pretty darn obvious.

Anyway, I'm going to be limited in the comments I make in the public forum, but I'm happy to discuss stuff in more depth in a more limited way via email or google talk, etc. I've been meaning to check out video conferencing on Google Plus, if anyone wants to try it. Private message me for contact info on that.
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Unread 08-06-2011, 08:59 AM   #10
gregaf3
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Thanks Mike for pressing forward with this. I think that this should be a fun one, the lady is very unreasonable and lives in two cargo containers bolted together.


I have not lived in the valley long enough to know many people, but I would be glad to go up there and hang out on the trail and try to collect names of people that use and have used the trails to help with the cause. The forest service just seems like they are being politically correct and do not have the funds to fight this homeowner with their already limited budget.




I might get flamed for this but oh well. As you know I have already started another thread about this on wranglerforum, I am sure if we go through all of the other forums and network from there it would be very easy to get several thousand people that have used and would like to use Wheelers Pass
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Unread 08-08-2011, 01:25 AM   #11
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So I talked this over with my wife who is starting her 3rd yr in law school at Boyd. Apparently it would be next to impossible to have anything to force her to open the road to the public even if it has been a widely used public roadway. Just due to the fact that it isn't the only road used to get to someplace important, for example a hospital. My guess is unless there are more property owners farther up the road that would like it to stay open to the public it will be a long legal battle that will prob go no where.
Honestly I haven't been up there in more than a year and am tempted to go and see what is going on myself. My guess is that this land owner is sick of people tearing *** on the road and got sick of the wild traffic. Which if that's the case I could see her point. At the same time she should stop being selfish and let all who want to enjoy the the area around her. I am half tempted to see if she would meet with some of the off road clubs in the valley and see if a happy medium can be found. Just my opinion. But if she Is completely unreasonable and is just being an total witch I am on the side of doing all that I can to make her life as hard as possible until she quits the ****. If she wants to be a fun Nazi why doesn't she buy a house in the valley and get on the hoa board where she can be happy pissing people off?
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Unread 08-08-2011, 11:31 PM   #12
davidsonlaw
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ksturgio, with all due respect to your wife, I believe she's missed on the analysis or she is unaware of the law on this particular. (This is no shame, nobody could be an expert everywhere.) I can't get into the analysis here, but feel free to PM me.
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Unread 08-09-2011, 07:25 PM   #13
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Hey no worries davidsonlaw. It was her best guess, if you need it she is actually working for westlaw. if you can use their services let me know. I think since she is an employee it's free.
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Unread 08-11-2011, 01:54 AM   #14
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This is the first I've heard of this. I love that trail.

There are a lot of trails that have been closed for "wilderness areas" and other excuses in the last couple of years, and it's getting irritating. I take my sons (one at a time) camping around here, and we've made some great memories. We leave our campsites clean, we don't tear up the surrounding desert, and generally behave ourselves. The few people we encounter are of the same attitude. Soon the entire area will be off limits to anything but hiking boots. But how far can you go? How much water can you pack on your back? These areas will only be accessible for politicians with helicopters. I can't afford a helicopter.

A couple of years ago I was making money, and I would have heartily contributed to your noble quest. Sadly, I'm barely hanging on now.

Godspeed, my friend. If I can be of any other help, please let me know.

Dave
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Unread 08-12-2011, 11:24 AM   #15
MikeSW214
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At the DW club meeting they claimed the trail has been reopened. Can anyone verify?
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