Judge rules in favor of corner-crossing hunters

May 30, 2023

In a significant win for public lands access, a federal judge ruled on Friday that four Missouri hunters did not trespass when they corner-crossed and passed through the airspace above a private ranch in Wyoming. Corner crossing refers to the act of stepping from one piece of public land to another at a common corner with two pieces of private property. The hunters argued that the Unlawful Inclosures Act of 1885 prevents the private land owner from obstructing access across the corner.

Chief U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl dismissed most of the ranch owner’s lawsuit, which claimed the hunters trespassed and caused more than $7 million in damages, stating that “corner crossing on foot in the checkerboard pattern of land ownership without physically contacting private land and without causing damage to private property does not constitute an unlawful trespass.”

The ruling carries major implications for recreation and hunting access to 8.3 million acres of “corner-locked” public land in the United States. “This is a long overdue and singularly great outcome for the entire American public and anybody who enjoys public lands,” said Ryan Semerad, the hunters’ attorney. Yet the legal battle is not over, as Semerad expects an appeal on the case. The ruling also did not address an additional allegation that a hunter did set foot on private land.

Representative Ryan Zinke confuses two agencies he once led

In a letter to top Biden administration officials, former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and fellow Montana Representative Matt Rosendale mixed up the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service, two agencies under the Interior Department that Zinke once managed. The letter takes issue with the proposed BLM rule that would put conservation on equal footing with other uses, including energy development, timber harvest, and grazing. “From national narks to natural resources, the BLM’s management of land in Montana is of great concern to the people of our state,” wrote Zinke and Rosendale. It is important to note that national parks are actually managed by the National Park Service, not the BLM.

Quick hits

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BLM officials pitch conservation-focused public lands rule at Denver meeting

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Opinion: BLM rulemaking is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reshape conservation policy

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State Farm will no longer accept applications for homeowners insurance in California, citing wildfire risk

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Tribes call on Haaland to push increased protections for the Grand Canyon

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Nevada’s next national monument may be in east Las Vegas

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Opinion: Who Really Makes Money From Your Public Land Campsite Bookings?

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Quote of the day

This new rule alone won’t stop oil and gas exploration on public lands or solve the climate crisis. But it will have tangible, meaningful, and immediate positive effects. And when it’s combined with similar efforts at other government agencies like the U.S. Forest Service, it lays out a potential path towards a sustainable climate future. President Biden’s climate legacy can be the Willow project, or it can be the most ambitious reorganization of public lands in history.”

—Athan Manuel, director of Sierra Club’s Lands Protection Program, Nevada Current

Picture this

arctic fox kits


Double trouble. When mamma is away, the kits come out to play!

A pair of sibling arctic foxes engage in playful activities in Alaska. Playtime holds significant value for young foxes, as it allows them to acquire vital life skills.

Photo by Lisa Hupp / @USFWS

(featured image: Hunters on public land. Eric Coulter, BLM)