Volume 4, Number 23 - September 2, 2004
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Erramouspe Road appeal on hold
Sublette County Attorney Van Graham said in an interview Tuesday that the county's appeal of the adverse decision in the Erramouspe Road case is now on hold.
Graham said, "The county is in the process of applying for a permit for that road," so that the Erramouspes have a legal access route.
"The appeal is on hold until we see what happens with the permitting process," Graham said.
The Erramouspe Road, traversing some five miles of Bureau of Land Management-administered lands, has been used by the Erramouspe family to access their ranch south of Boulder along the Big Sandy River for some 70 years. About 10 years ago, the BLM caught the Erramouspes working on the road and demanded the family apply for and purchase a right-of-way for the road.
John Erramouspe didn't think much of the idea of paying the BLM for a right that had existed prior to the creation of the BLM, so he balked. Eventually the Sublette County Commission stepped in to help by claiming the road was a county road pursuant to RS-2477, a long-revoked federal statute. A lawsuit followed, with a federal court dismissing the case because of an earlier Wyoming Supreme Court ruling in another case. The federal court determined that the state's decision, based on a 1919 state law, "effectively vacated that status of any road, including those established pursuant to RS-2477, which were not recorded and established by the pertinent board of county commissioners."
So while the county is now seeking a permit in order to help the Erramouspes, the larger issue still exists.
Graham said, "In the best of all worlds, the Wyoming Legislature would address this issue and make it clear that the statute the Wyoming Supreme Court used doesn't apply to public lands."
Graham said, "If that were to happen, the basis for the decision might change. If that changed ... the outcome of such a change might be different."
Graham's point was that if the state law was changed, the Erramouspe Road issue could be resolved differently, as could other similar situations in the future in Wyoming.
Graham said he hopes that when the Wyoming Legislature next reconvenes, the statute is changed to make it clear that the law doesn't apply to public lands.
"If that could happen ... that would be a very positive thing to do," Graham said. "We hope there will be an effort to get that done."
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