[Cdt-l] harassment of hikers

Ken Powers ken at gottawalk.com
Mon Nov 2 11:52:12 CST 2009

In 2002 we spoke to a rancher very early in our hike. His first question was "Where did you sleep last night?"  As in - did you sleep on my property? We explained we spent the night in the barrow pit and had cached water along the road ahead.  The more we talked to him the more we understood his concerns. We kept asking and getting more information. I think it was fortunate we had this discussion early in our hike.

His explanation was that he owned the land (in this case). He did not want the liability if we got hurt or sick from the water, so we did not have permission to get onto his land. He also did not want us bothering his cattle. He did tell us we could go onto his land to get water, but he would deny that he gave us permission in any legal context. 

He said the "No Trespassing" signs posted on all the gates were part of the legalities. In effect the signs meant no trespassing on the land, not the public roads. This was New Mexico's way of letting ranchers post their property where there were no fences within the boundaries of the ranches. 

Later we caught a ride out of Reserve with a well dressed couple. We found out that the driver wrote New Mexico's land rights law! He proudly stated it was the most voluminous state law ever passed by any state legislature. At that time I didn't want to know more about the New Mexico land use problems. Now I wish I had asked more questions.

I feel like I should say " I'm not versed in New Mexico law, but I like sleeping at Holiday Inn Express". ;)

www GottaWalk com
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Trekker4 at aol.com 
  To: KS1007 at aol.com ; cdt-l at backcountry.net 
  Sent: Monday, November 02, 2009 9:10 AM
  Subject: Re: [Cdt-l] harassment of hikers

  Legal question for all'a y'all:
      Is a BLM grazing lease similar to an apartment lease? If you lease an apartment, you have control and protections, against warrantless searches, trespass, etc. Is a BLM lease of public land only for grazing, but not control, against us hiker trash trespass, on the land not a public road? I understand that public roads are public; we have public roads through ranches here in Big Bend, but many ranchers gave up public maintenance to lock the gate at the highway. Keith, your email implies no trespass control. Do you or anyone have any legal input, just for the knowledge of it?  

  Bob "Trekker"
  Big Bend Desert Denizen, and...
  Naturalized Citizen - Republic of Texas 

  In a message dated 10/31/2009 1:40:24 A.M. Central Standard Time, ks1007 at aol.com writes:
    I'd like to add my 2 cents worth to jonathan's and ron's entries
    this year we have had about 21 thru hikers north and southbound come through on the columbus route - ron is the only one to have any problems - he was on a county road in the middle of nowhere and a rancher rolls up on him - he was not on the trail - of course, the rancher is going to be curious as to what you are doing there - in southern new mexico many ranchers lease BLM (federal) land - the ranchers think they own the land they are leasing - they don't - don't let this isolated incident scare you away from doing the columbus route - if you do run into a disgruntled rancher try to find out what ranch he is from and let me know - I will go out there and talk with them - like I said earlier this is one person out of 21- if you stay on the trail you are in the middle of nowhere and most likely will not be seen - one of the ranchers this past spring invited 2 nobo's to his house for dinner
    any questions? 
    trail angel
    deming, NM

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