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Landowner uses congressional ties to sway Forest S


LAURA LUNDQUIST, Bozeman Chronicle Staff Writer - August 12, 2013

BIG SKY ó When a Texas millionaire built his 8,000-square-foot log home here, he placed it on or near a road that hikers, bikers and skiers had used for decades to access Forest Service land and the Spanish Peaks Wilderness.

Since 1966, the U.S. Forest Service has held a 60-foot-wide easement that allows Road 166B to loop up to Forest Service land through four privately owned sections. Itís the only remaining road that allows easy access from the main Big Sky highway...

But now, the road appears to dead-end at Stan Schlueter's driveway, and he has used his political connections in Congress to sway negotiations with Gallatin National Forest officials who are striving to protect the publicís access.

For the full story , click the link below . It is a classic example of great investigative reporting.

Here is a letter PLWA president John Gibson wrote to the Forest Service about the issue. :

Supervisor Mary Erickson
Custer/Gallatin National Forest
10 East Babcock St.
Bozeman Montana 59715 Aug.12, 2013

Supervisor Erickson;
As President of the Public Land and Water Access Association and a Forest Service Retiree I feel compelled to address the issue of the house constructed on a road easement administered by the U.S. Forest Service(RD 166B) near Big Sky MT.

Unless the individual who constructed the house can supply written proof that he had permission to encroach upon an existing easement, he should be charged with a criminal offence. Any negotiation should have taken place before house construction began.

After he has paid his fine or served his jail sentence he might be offered the option of either moving the house or paying for the construction of a section of new road that by passes the encroaching house. The new road, of course, would have to be built to Forest Service standards.

Our organization, PLWA, is involved in several access issues in Montana. Many of them result from the same set of circumstances as in this case. We often encounter people who believe they can accomplish their selfish objectives by simply doing what they want done and then dealing with reluctant local law enforcement personnel after the fact.

PLWA has no law enforcement authority, so we are forced to file lawsuits. These often drag on for years and as a result, favor those with substantial financial resources. I would encourage you to avoid this approach and file criminal charge against the owner of the house who had clearly violated the law.

If we can be of any help, please let us know.

John Gibson, President, PLWA

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Public Land/Water Access Association Inc. or PLWA, is a citizen group organized and operated under the Montana nonprofit corporation act.

Articles and Information on this site represent the opinion of the writer and are not intended as legal advice. Legal counsel may be needed in dealing with specific access situations and issues.
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