Rail Trails Take a Hit

White-River-Rail-Trail-in-Nebraska-34From the Bad News Desk, we have this:

The U.S. Supreme Court has dealt a blow to rail trails.  The implications are not yet clear, but it appears that any federally protected right of ways that exist on private lands my be in jeopardy, even if they are currently being used as trails.  For more information see the link below:

Supreme Court Ruling Information

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About greatplainstrail

Building the Great Plains Trail.
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8 Responses to Rail Trails Take a Hit

  1. trailsnet says:

    This is a major disappointment. Trail funding is scarce as it is, and now the Supreme Court has opened to the door to lawsuits against trail organizations such as Rails to Trails Conservancy. It has also opened the door to closing many trails. It’s a sad day for American trails.

    • Agreed. It is likely to affect a number of trails in the West. My hope is that well established trails like the Mickelson Trail would have enough clout to avoid any issues, but that remains to be seen . . . 😦

      • trailsnet says:

        Some of the major rail trails were on land that was still owned by the railroads and the trails officially purchased the land or had the land donated to them. They should be fine. But many others went through land that was in this state of limbo between private, public & railroad. Those are in major jeopardy.
        It’s interesting that if they need a major road, mall or railroad on private land, eminent domain kicks in and the private land-holder is out of luck. But when it’s a trail that is good for the environment, families, recreation, exercise, history, scenery, etc., then the landholder holds all the cards and the trails (and all their users) are out of luck. Skewed priorities.

        • Good point! Trails just don’t have the perception of being economically important, even though they can (and do) bring in plenty of economic development to places lucky enough to have them.

  2. JunkChuck says:

    There’s no end to human stupidity–our county has invested in rail trails, one of which has been lauded as one of the best in the state, and they’ve been excellent economic drivers as well as a recreational assets for the communities. I followed that lawsuit and have to wonder what the plaintiff was thinking–it’s easy to just imagine a villain behind his big oak desk, cackling and kicking his dog, Bwaaaa haaaa haaaa!

    • Apparently, it’s one land owner in Wyoming who was putting up a fuss about the Medicine Bow Trail. My thinking is that if your worst problem in life is that someone is riding a bike near your property, you’re doing pretty darn good.

  3. Pete Buckley says:

    I don’t know what they can be thinking. Over here in the UK we have a network of trails that were formerly railways and more and more people each year use them for walking and cycling. There must be some great health benefits there.

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