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Old 07-20-2008, 07:15 PM   #1
Osprey! OP
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Private Road... or NOT (Colorado)

Anybody know what the rules are regarding private roads in Colorado? I took a short ride today and ran into a bunch of supposedly private roads. One I knew can't be private (it's the only access to forest roads NF-220, etc) and might have been put up by an overzealous homeowner trying to keep traffic down from the trails behind his house.

This is the fake private road (near Raymond, CO) :


The following I assume are real (though how can I tell?):

Road to Noland, Stone Canyon Drive


Dakota Ride Road, near Rabbit Mountain Open Space:


and another
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Old 07-20-2008, 08:45 PM   #2
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Don't know about any of those specific roads, but I can tell you that we have the same problem in Wyoming. Landowners routinely post signs along public roads that are clearly calculated to suggest (without saying so) that the roads are private. The problem is so bad that a bunch of public land user groups got together a few years back to try and lobby the legislature to criminalize the practice. Sadly, nothing came of it.

It would sure be nice if there were some easy way to determine whether a particular road is public. The most informative signs I've seen are the ones that say: "Entering Private Land, Please Stay on the Road." They tell the story well, without pretending the road is private. Old Flowers Road above Fort Collins is a good example of the positive way to handle the problem. For Example "Road passes through private land, next X miles. Please stay on the road"
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Old 07-20-2008, 09:09 PM   #3
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Take em down?
I mean, if they're illegally put up, noone would mind if they would dissapear right?
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Old 07-20-2008, 09:24 PM   #4
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Yeah, but I can't tell what's a legit sign and what's not legit. How can you tell?
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Old 07-20-2008, 09:45 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Opie
Yeah, but I can't tell what's a legit sign and what's not legit. How can you tell?
Unfortunately, there's no easy way to tell. In Wyoming, you can check the commissioners' records at the local courthouse to find out the surveyed route of all the county roads, and get copies of the easements (or orders) establishing the road. Even then, you can get into issues regarding whether the county road has been abandoned, and reverted to private.

The forest service roads are not so easy, because the forest service is so bad about either maintaining their roads, or keeping records regarding which ones are public and private. It is not uncommom for private inholders in the forest who block a road through their property, which was built and maintained by the public long before their property was private. The Forest Service (or the public) is left to file suit to enjoin the blockage, and they usually conclude it is not worth the money to bring suit.

I just finished working on a lawsuit where this precise issue was involved, and the forest service won the suit, but they had allowed the road to remain blocked for over a decade. If they hadn't convinced the U.S. Attorney to bring suit to establish a trail along the old railroad bed passing through the same property, they would never have sued just to reopen the road.

There are several theories under which the forest service, the local county commission or the public can sue to enjoin a landowner from blocking a public road. (prescriptive easements, R.S. 2477, implied easement, simple lack of right) Sadly, the amount of historical research necessary to prevail in those suits means that few ever get brought, due to the cost. The private landowners know this, so they routinely just block the roads, and dare anyone to do anything about it.

The worst abuse I've seen in Wyoming is where a private landowner (with buddies on the county commission) will grant an easement for a county road, get the county to pay to build the road, then convince the commissioners to abandon the road later. The landowner, in the process, just got the taxpayers to build him a nice long driveway, thank you very much. I can point to a couple of these in my county.
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Old 07-20-2008, 09:56 PM   #6
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I'm starting to think I should just ignore the flippin' signs. Let 'em catch me and charge me with trespassing. Sheesh.

And the sign said anybody caught trespassing would be shot on sight
So I jumped on the fence and yelled at the house, Hey! what gives you the right
To put up a fence to keep me out or to keep mother nature in
If God was here, he'd tell you to your face, man you're some kinda sinner

Oh, sign, sign, everywhere a sign

Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind
Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign


-Signs (Five Man Electrical Band)
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Old 11-05-2011, 03:41 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Osprey! View Post
Yeah, but I can't tell what's a legit sign and what's not legit. How can you tell?
Call the Sheriff of the location county?
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Old 11-03-2011, 09:31 AM   #8
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Hey gang!

I was contacted by a reporter recently who is planning to write a story on the same subject as this thread. She's currently casting about for an example of a fake private road that would make an interesting subject for the story.

I thought I'd revive this old thread and ask if anyone here knows an example I can point her to, pretty much anywhere in Wyoming or Colorado.

Dunno whether the examples at the beginning of this thread are still around. If anyone knows they are, could you please direct me to the exact location?
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Old 11-03-2011, 10:43 PM   #9
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Tom, I think youre experiencing the practical effect of the routine posting of fake private roads. After people have seen enough examples of landowners posting a private land sign along the county road, they start ignoring the real ones.

I think the only answer to the problem is to criminalize the practice of lying to road users. it also helps if the county starts clearly posting which roads are private and public, on well constructed signs. (my county started doing this only very recently, and it helps a lot.)

I don't think most governments will criminalize the practice, as some of them are simply corrupt. Earlier, I mentioned an example where a landowner got a county road established and built, then later asked the commission to abandon the road. He got a nice driveway put of the deal, nearly ten miles long, built at public expense. He was one of the most politically powerful men in the state, and he understood the value of well timed campaign contributions. He never would have allowed the legislature to criminalize a practice he engaged in regularly.

Just another example of how we all suffer when our politicians are corrupt.

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Old 11-03-2011, 11:13 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cowboy View Post
Tom, I think youre experiencing the practical effect of the routine posting of fake private roads. After people have seen enough examples of landowners posting a private land sign along the county road, they start ignoring the real ones.

I think the only answer to the problem is to criminalize the practice of lying to road users. it also helps if the county starts clearly posting which roads are private and public, on well constructed signs. (my county started doing this only very recently, and it helps a lot.)


Public roads with illegitimate "private road" signs have been, in my experiences, the more abundant.
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Old 11-03-2011, 11:23 PM   #11
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I thought Hayduke's scenario was related to an FR road we have here on Storm Mtn in Drake. FR 153
Here's a snippet of the Canyon Lakes Ranger District south MVUM showing legal travel routes in the Storm Mtn area (ON USFS land).

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Old 11-04-2011, 06:54 AM   #12
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I never said "every single Texan" but there are a LOT of Texas folks who own or rent homes in the Westcliffe area each summer. I'd venture to say at least 1/2 of all out-of-state visitors are Texans. The majority of the people on our private road that have license plates are Texans.

The one's I've encountered have often been rude and surly and disrespectful. Example: One of the part time neighbors (lives in Vegas full time) has two old Mopar muscle cars next to his house rusting away. A few weeks ago a pickup comes by and goes to the end of the road. Texas plates. Maybe hunters. Comes back, sees me outside on my tractor, and asks me about the cars. I tell him that he's on private property on a private road. And unless he's a guest of one of the people on the road he should leave. He asks again about the cars. I ask him to leave or I will call the cops. This is a Saturday afternoon. He leaves. On Sunday afternoon the same truck comes by again, drives down the road a bit, and 2 people walk across the pasture over to the cars on the hill. I call the sheriff's office and explain the back story. They actually had someone nearby and a sheriff car comes in about 15 minutes and goes down the road. In about 10 minutes the truck leaves. WTF? This person didn't give a crap even when he knew it was private property and had the balls to come back. No idea what the outcome was between him and the sheriff.

Last year another truck with Texas plates stopped and asked me if I would open the gate that is in my side yard that goes into the Geroux cattle ranch. I told the guy it was not my gate but belonged to Jack Geroux. The driver of the truck said he had permission to hunt on his property. I said great, but I am not going to allow you to drive across my property to get to this gate. There are at least 4 other gates on the county road that go into his property. He left with a big burnout in my driveway. Great.

Yes, I do ride. I keep my KTM950 most of the time down at the cabin so I can ride it on weekend. I ride respectfully even on my own road. I do have fun on the public roads and it's always a chance I take that I will get caught speeding at any time. But, I don't go over to your neighborhood and ride around jist on the off chance that it's public lands and you posted it as private.

The sign is a joke. It's in my garage. It would be for amusement only. If someone is already a dick enough to go past all of the other signs prior to my little place then my sign won't matter at all to them either.

I have no idea how many Advriders are. Thousands I guess. How many of them with ADV stickers that ride their DS and dirt bikes down the private road past my house is all that matters to me. I am sure that 99% of inmates are decent folks. But the sign on the country road that they drive past is 100% for sure a real Custer County sign when it says "NO USFS or Rainbow Access". They are posted on every single dead end road that actually does not have access. There are 3 or 4 other roads with signs helping people get to the Rainbow Trail. All clearly marked just for that reason.

I think because I grew up on a big farm back east and we always had to fight with people who felt it was fine to pheasant or deer hunt in our woods that I am leery of intruders. I also learned from my dad not to fuck with other people's stuff.

Tom
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Old 11-04-2011, 08:10 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by ramz View Post
Here's a snippet of the Canyon Lakes Ranger District south MVUM showing legal travel routes in the Storm Mtn area (ON USFS land).

FYI, there's also a locked gate on 345.

As of earlier this year the guy who blocks MC travel at the end of 153 has removed his DOW signage - several have suspected that those signs and stickers weren't exactly sanctioned by the DOW.

My question regarding 153 is this - can a land owner legally restrict specific types of traffic on a mapped USFS road that passes through their property?
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Old 11-04-2011, 08:04 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Cowboy View Post
Tom, I think youre experiencing the practical effect of the routine posting of fake private roads. After people have seen enough examples of landowners posting a private land sign along the county road, they start ignoring the real ones.

I think the only answer to the problem is to criminalize the practice of lying to road users. it also helps if the county starts clearly posting which roads are private and public, on well constructed signs. (my county started doing this only very recently, and it helps a lot.)
Cowboy nailed it!

I live on a private road. How did I find my house that I currently live in? I ignored the private road sign.

I ignore them all the time and will continue to do so if I think they are not legit. If I think they are legit I treat them that way. But due to false signs going up my first thought is that it is not legit.

So Cowboy nailed it in my mind.

but then again, I do not mind if someone uses our private road. I have other things to think about.
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Old 11-04-2011, 08:51 AM   #15
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Cowboy nailed it!

I live on a private road. How did I find my house that I currently live in? I ignored the private road sign.

I ignore them all the time and will continue to do so if I think they are not legit. If I think they are legit I treat them that way. But due to false signs going up my first thought is that it is not legit.

So Cowboy nailed it in my mind.

but then again, I do not mind if someone uses our private road. I have other things to think about.
There's just no way for a person to know if a sign is legit or not. In Tom's case, with all of those signs, and the "no forest access" sign, etc., I'd just assume it was legit. But most of the time you don't know, so I just make a judgement call... am I in range or not?
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