Show Notes

This week on The Average Conservationist Podcast, Marcus breaks down the recent ruling in the Corner Crossing case in Wyoming. In short, the Corner Crossing case was a lawsuit filed against 4 hunters in Wyoming who accessed a piece of public land from another by using a ladder to cross at an intersection of 2 pieces of private land. Two separate suits were filed against the hunters, both criminal and civil, claiming that the hunters trespassed on private land by crossing the air space on the private land. In both cases, the judge ruled in favor of the hunters and has potentially set a precedent for not only Wyoming but other western states as well. Time will tell what this means for other states, but for now it was a victory for hunters.

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Show Transcript

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Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to the Average Conservationist Podcast, and I'm your host Marcus Shoeing. All right. Today, I'm gonna fly solo with you as I've been doing I guess a bit more frequently in the past six, seven months. But there was a topic that I realize I'm a bit late to the game on.

I wanted to do an episode on this last week. I just didn't, I just didn't get a chance to essentially is what it comes down to and. Again, a few weeks late to the [00:02:00] game or discussing this on the podcast, but the ruling came down, I guess it's probably two weeks ago now, on the corner casing, corner crossing case.

Jesus Pete's, I'm gonna stumble over that one a few times. This episode the ruling came down on. On this trial, on this case and essentially was the verdict was in favor of the hunters. And for those listening who have not heard about the corner crossings case in Wyoming. Quick quick rundown, quick synopsis.

Essentially. There was a couple different suits or lawsuits filed before hunters from Missouri accessed a piece of public land. That was essentially. Landlocked isn't the right word by private land, but it was almost in, or not almost, but it was in a checkerboard [00:03:00] shaped fashion.

The way that the parcels were laid out. So two corners of private touched. There was two corners that were private land, two corners that were public land. These hunters wanted to access one of the the piece of public I guess that was inside of the two pieces of private.

And in order to do what they did was they brought a ladder to this crossing put the ladder over the fence or whatever type of barrier barricade there was. Climbed over the ladder, hopped into the public land and essentially the case was made that they trespassed or trespassing on the private land because they were in the airspace.

So there was first, and I'm gonna probably have to refer back to some notes from time to time here, but there was first a Not a [00:04:00] civil, but a criminal charge that the landowner brought against them. Which the ruling was in favor of the hunters. And then it went to a civil lawsuit. And again, the the verdict was in favor of the hunters from Missouri.

And this was, there was a few Previous court cases, some precedent that was set that really helped the four hunters with their defense with their side of the case. Gosh, I feel like I'm gonna have to use a lot of legal jargon and yeah, I'm just I'm outta my depths when it comes to that type of stuff.

However, When you look at it, and before I even knew a lot about this case, or I guess the inner workings of it, I was familiar with it from afar. I was like a lot of you who are familiar with it, I was seeing blog posts maybe. [00:05:00] Reading some headlines from articles.

I would maybe hear people talking about it through clips and reels and these types of things on social media. So I didn't know the the fine details. And I remember thinking back about, how these gentlemen accessed this land. And I started thinking, I was like if there was a fence there and they climbed the fence, Then I could see why the landowner would have an issue.

And when I read it and I read that they and I, or let me back up, and I thought to myself what if you just used a ladder, right? You just . You brought like a six, eight foot ladder folding ladder, whatever the case is, and you just pop this thing, one side of the fence or one side of the public to the other side of the public.

Just access it that way. I thought to myself that, then you're not actually touching anything. You're just, you're in the airspace and that. It turns out that is exactly [00:06:00] what these hunters did. Now, whether they had scouted this land previously and all of this information may be out there somewhere, I just haven't taken a deep enough dive into it to hear their entire story the hunters that is.

And so it turns out that's they did and. The only thing that they technically were trespassing on was the airspace going back to that and that the two different judges ruled was, not a crime. And, I start to think about other instances in just your day-to-day interactions.

With neighbors out in public, whatever the case is, and how often we, excuse me, we quote unquote trespass by just being in the airspace, right? Like I think about my backyard and I have a fence [00:07:00] that separates my yard from my neighbor's yard and great neighbor. But if I were to walk over there, And wave my arm over the top of his fence.

By the thought process behind these landowners who were trying to file suit against these hunters is that I was trespassing, even though I never actually stepped foot on the ground, I never actually touched any of his physical property. I would still be trespassing. And I just think how foolish that is to have that mindset that because something or someone passed through your airspace, that they are trespassing on your land.

And I think, and again I don't want to sound like I'm speaking outta turn too much here because again, The facts I have are relatively limited based on a couple recent articles that I just read today. So I was trying to [00:08:00] keep it as top of mind as possible, and that's the landowner who pressed charges.

That's essentially, he did not want anyone on that piece of public land because of, likely the deer, the elk, just the wild game in general that inhabit. This area of public land. And he was essentially not allowing, people like, like these four hunters, an opportunity to access public land.

And I realized that this is it. It's related to conservation because it's related to public land and access and. BHA had certainly played a large part in helping the defense of these four four hunters raising money. There was an attorney who took this case on pro bono. I do believe I believe he was a hunter as well.

So this was something that was likely near and dear to him as an outdoorsman. [00:09:00] And I, I. I just can't understand wanting or being so selfish that you would try to restrict other hunters from accessing public land. I don't know. I guess that's a, it's a hard thing for me to wrap my head around because, when you think about public land, it's everybody's, like the very popular shirt, the public landowner that BHA has made so popular over the years and I own one as well and it's funny sometimes, I'll be wearing that shirt and people will read it and they chuckle at it, because it's just a, an interesting way to look at it because it is, and it's one of those things that, that maybe we take for granted.

As outdoors men, as outdoors women, that, that public land is always gonna be there, it's always gonna be accessible. We have certainly, Found out over the course of time that, that public lands and access, a lot of those things are under [00:10:00] attack, whether it's development the list goes on and on there on the restrictions that people are trying to put on our access and our rights to, to recreate on these public lands.

And I think it, the rulings obviously were a huge victory especially as it pertains to the state of Wyoming. But it makes you wonder that why, a landowner well, it doesn't make you wonder, why? Because he didn't want. Presumably anyone else to hunt on this land that he had what he thought was unfettered access to even though it was public in his thought or his thought process, excuse me was that since there was two pieces of pub of private bordering that no one had the ability to access that except for himself.

And it's just so selfish and. You're limiting [00:11:00] people's ability and opportunity to go out and, see and enjoy and do what people love to do in terms of hunting or, heck, even if someone just wanted to back, back in there and camp or something like that, like they wouldn't even be able to do that.

Or I guess I wonder if, the four people that were Not even charged, but that the lawsuit was brought against for trespassing. What if they were hikers? What if they just wanted to explore a new piece of land? Would the landowner have had an issue then, or is it just because they were hunters and he likely knows the, the class of animals that live in that area, in that range?

That's why that, that, he had an issue with it because now someone else was gonna have access to something that he felt that even though it's public land, that he was the only one that had right to access that. And that is a very dangerous thought process. It's a very narrow minded and again, selfish[00:12:00] thought process and the.

Going back to the, the victory part of it for I guess you'd say Yeah, the defendants. What this does is it doesn't necessarily change laws across the country. I think that's one thing that, that we as hunters especially in states outside of Wyoming need to be aware of, is that it does not change laws in current states.

However there is some precedence out there now for, potential future cases. But I'm gonna I'm looking through an article here to try to read something. Sorry.

So there, okay. The what happens when the legislature comes and changes that statute next session to say, [00:13:00] corner crossing is illegal. This case is not binding upon a judge in a criminal case, it's persuasive authority. But not a binding authority. Okay. More kind of lawyers speak as I'm trying to quickly scan back over this this article that I read.

And this article was actually on mer so it's a pretty easily accessible article, but I'm sure that I'm gonna ballpark here, but. 95%, if not higher. Percent of people that listen to this podcast do not have large swaths of land in the West that is potentially restricting access to public land, but, I'd be curious to hear from some of you listeners out there.

Are we all in agreeance on, all in agreement on this, that this is, the ruling was obviously a ruling that as [00:14:00] hunters and outdoor recreationist that we were hoping for. But if for some reason you are on the. Excuse me if you're on the other side of the fence, no pun intended here.

What, what are your thoughts or why do you look at that? As or why would you be on the side of the landowner in this particular case? And I don't wanna necessarily pass judgment on someone who maybe feels that it wasn't the right ruling. But I'm just curious, I don't want to get into the game of the, that seems to be so popular now is if you disagree with someone, you point fingers and name call and those types of things.

But I, I would be curious. I know I did say that earlier on that, that viewpoint was selfish. And that, that's my opinion, that's how I feel. But what, say you on, on, defending the landowner's point of view [00:15:00] in this particular case? I would just be curious you could shoot me a message, you can reach out to me on social media or, through the average conservationist website.

I would be, I'd be more than happy just to hear people's thoughts and hear why maybe they felt felt differently. But I think that as time goes on, I think we're likely going to see more and more of these types of cases and. One thing that I had quickly read talked about the fact that the layout as I referred to earlier, the kind of checkerboard pattern that these parcels of land were in played a factor in that as well.

Because I think if, if a piece of public land is, landlocked in a, in the true sense where. There is private land surrounding it then yeah. To be able to physically [00:16:00] cross over someone's private land to access that Yes. Would indeed be trespassing. And I don't like that there's, public land that is landlocked out there that is not accessible.

Previous guest on the podcast, Jason Mattsinger talked about or made a film about hunting on a piece of land that was only accessible essentially by helicopter. And he made a film about going on a hunt like that and really great film. And it's it's interesting to me that there can be public land that is, in essence, landlock and landlocked, landlocked and not able to be recreated on, and not able to be enjoyed by, the likes of backpackers and, fishermen and hunters and things like that.

I'm curious to see that, or curious to see what the future holds in terms of, Montana, Colorado, Idaho, Washington, these other states[00:17:00] that have, a lot of public land, but also a lot of private land as well. If we're gonna see more and more cases like this, how the ruling in Wyoming will affect potential rulings down the road in those states, and if we will see.

I guess sweeping changes across the country, because obviously there's certain states that have a much smaller percentage of public land and, how easily accessible is that and what could likely come of that in the future? So that was just kind of a. Quick synopsis of the case, a little bit about the ruling.

A little bit of my thought on the topic. Yeah, that's, it. Just, it felt like it was something important to at least address. There was also stepping away from the corner Crossing's case and talking about some recent legislation that was [00:18:00] changed or that was overruled by the Supreme Court.

And again, this is another one that I think I would likely try to bring on, a guess to talk about where it a lot of protections on wetlands was decreased based on this ruling. I don't know if trying to get someone from an organization like TRO Unlimited or something like that, who probably has a much better grasp and handle on that.

But I'm gonna say that for another episode where someone can speak a bit more eloquently, I guess about it. It has a lot more knowledge and information because I would. I would not be doing that. Or I, excuse me. I would be doing that a great disservice to try to talk about that.

And that is obviously a ruling that, that came from a much higher court a much bigger impact in ramifications across the kind of entirety of the landscape. So [00:19:00] that's one that. I think we will we will save for another episode and see how that continues to play out in the coming weeks and months and and go from there.

So that that is all I have for you guys this week. Hope it wasn't too bad for you. Hopefully possibly you learned a little bit or, just wanted to hear my 2 cents on it, but, Yeah, that's it. I would like to thank 2% for conservation. And if you're interested in learning more about 2% for conservation, you can visit their website, fish and, and over there you're gonna see all the certified brands that have committed to conservation that you should support when you shop.

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Thanks for joining me this week, [00:20:00] everyone. Stay tuned. Next week we will be back to regularly scheduled guests so you don't have to listen to me talk for a half an hour. But yeah, enjoy the rest of your week. Have a great weekend. Stay safe out there. And remember that conservation starts with you.