Landowners file trespass lawsuit against Western Watersheds Project

(Lander, Wyo.) – Fifteen landowners in Fremont County and Lincoln County have filed a civil trespass lawsuit in Wyoming District Court, Fremont County, against Western Watersheds Project, Inc. (WWP) and Jonathan Ratner, WWP Director for Wyoming, Utah and Colorado, and John Does 1-10 with the Western Watersheds Project, Inc. for intentionally and without landowner permission trespassing and entering private property, states a news released from Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation.

The Plaintiffs in the case are seeking a permanent injunction to stop further unauthorized trespass against their private property.  The Plaintiffs are also seeking recovery of actual, nominal and punitive damages.

Of the 15 landowners, five are from Fremont County. They are: Frank Ranches Inc., White Acorn Sheep Company, John G. and Jean A. Corbett as trustees of their respective Living Trusts, Stanley E. Cole, and Graham Ranch Inc.

According to Western Watersheds Project, Inc.’s website, “Policy Memo Number 2” is “To Do:  Get all cows and sheep off public lands ASAP!” The lawsuit alleges that WWP was willing to break the law to further its efforts.

“In many areas in Wyoming, private land is interspersed with federal lands. We (Wyoming private landowners) have typically allowed public access through our private lands,” said Anjie McConnell with Frank Ranches.  “Allowing public access is a property owner’s choice.”

“For instance, if you are not comfortable allowing someone into your home you are able to tell them “no” and close the door,” She explained. “Landowners have the same rights and the ability to say “no” to groups and individuals that knowingly trespass; including those trying to advance an agenda against multiple-use of federal lands.”

According to the complaint, water monitoring sites used by WWP in a plan filed with DEQ were either illegally located on private lands inaccessible without going through private property.

“Because the Defendants were required to use GPS equipment to note the locations of their water quality monitoring sites, Defendants knew or should have known that they were trespassing on private property to access these sites,”  Attorney Karen Budd-Falen explained.

“Landowners are not comfortable having an extreme biased organization, that has not demonstrated the professional qualifications to collect credible data, trespassing their lands,” Budd-Falen continued.

Additionally, the Defendant trespassed on State lands and was notified on April 1, 2014 by the Director of the Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments that collection of monitoring data on Wyoming State trust lands was prohibited by law and that any continued unauthorized data collections may constitute trespassing, the news release states.

The Plaintiffs in this lawsuit reportedly have the support of the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts, Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation, Wyoming Stock Growers Association and Wyoming Wool Growers Association.

9 Comments

  1. Hilltown Trader

    This trespass is part of an larger federal push to "own" all waters in the US.

    EPA current Clean Water Act gives EPA authority of over the "Waters of the US" defined navigable waters that cross state lines. EPA delegated the enforcment of this act of Wyoming in 1990. EPA should be bringing no enforcement actions in Wyoming at all.

    Of great concern is EPA has proposed "clarification" currently in comment period, that refines the "Waters of the US" as any water that at some point might end up in a river that crosses a state boundary, you pond, your irrigation water, your stock pond, your well. ALL water become federally regulated.

    This "clarification" also establishes federal supremacy of ownership. The US government would "own" all water on your land, and you may only use it with Federal permission.

    Also the clarification requires that the federal government inventory all the water in the US that the Feds would now own, for regulatory purposes. That's a bit like the government saying that they regulate gun safety they can come into your bedroom and inventory your guns.

    Don't let this vast expansion of Federal power happen, particularly with no congressional mandate. And don't let anyone representing them self as the federal government come on your property for any reason.

  2. Stephen Rebecca Simpson

    Good. Too many people get pushed around these days. Folks need to stand up for their rights!!

  3. Carl M. Niswonger

    Are these the same folks who wanted to fire 1/2 of the cattle guards on BLM land to save money?

  4. P.h. Schroeder

    Another bunch od Bundy's

  5. Paul Calonge

    The rest of us recreational and hunting users could be helping these landowners. Please start noting down license plate numbers and if you see any of these people get a description. Your access across private lands is in danger because of the actions of these radical nutcases.

  6. Stephen Rebecca Simpson

    If everyone
    follows the rules things will run much smoother.

  7. Keith Collins

    “Policy Memo Number 2” is “To Do: Get all cows and sheep off public lands ASAP!” This is what the Bundy situation in Nevada is about. Bundy is the last of ~50 Mojave desert cattle ranchers. When the govt listed the tortoise as threatened it gave the radical environmentalists the clout they needed to pressure BLM from the top (DC). The tortoise was not and is not threatened, except in the relatively small areas around cities, where housing development is taking place.

  8. Marion Dickinson

    This group contributes absolutely nothing to the environment except fund raising lawsuits. They do no believe in private property rights, only Western Watersheds rights.

  9. Lois Herbst

    You are speaking of Pres. Clinton and cattle guards, not ranchers and BLM. Western Watersheds Project wants to remove all livestock from BLM and Forest Service lands.

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