The Times-Independent

On the commission, trails and private property


Editor,

Concerned citizens recently alerted several landowners to a Grand County Commission agenda item that proposed potential future easements for trails across their private properties.

File photo

After hearing public comment, the item was tabled until the next commission meeting at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20. This meeting is open to all who want to be heard on the issue of private property rights.

We have always granted limited hiking and biking access to our land, periodically closing it to avoid prescriptive easements that could force us to allow these trails in the future. We contend that it is solely a property owner’s right to give permission for others to use their land and not the right of a government agency.

We adamantly oppose the marking of lines on any map intended for public release. If this map is published online, visitors will not be able to distinguish between legitimate trails and proposed trails and may try to use what appears to be an approved, safe trail. Many of the proposed trails cross dangerous cliffs and other hazards, exposing landowners to personal liability if someone is injured.

Landowners were not given notice by the commission. If we had not been told by others, this action may have passed without anyone’s knowledge or consent. We also learned that many of the trails have been on a master plan map since 2011, giving further evidence that landowners have not been included in any discussion regarding these proposed trails. Landowners must be included in the conversation before lines are arbitrarily drawn on private property. 

The Grand County Non-Motorized Trails Master Plan 2011 Land Use Code states: “When a proposed trail crosses Grand County- or Moab city-owned land, or when a public trail is proposed across private property, then the committee will follow county or city procedures to obtain approval for the proposed trail.

“Easements for trails across private property are preferred, but other agreements can be acceptable. The committee will work with the land manager or developer to select a trail alignment that will meet the needs of all parties.”

The failure of the commission to adhere to the established Land Use Code jeopardizes the trust of this community. If future actions cause private landowners to close public access to their property, the commission will have the burden of managing public backlash due to their actions. — Mary Jane Cozzens and family

Moab