Wyoming Man Wins U.S. Supreme Court Case Concerning Rails To Trails

Mar 10, 2014

A Wyoming man has won a U-S Supreme Court  decision over a dispute with the U-S Forest Service.  Marvin Brandt of Fox Park swapped his land for 83 acres of Medicine Bow Forest Service land in the 70’s, with the understanding that the land would be his if a railroad that used the land ever stopped running. 

The railroad abandoned the property in 2003, but in 2005 the Forest Service reclaimed those acres and made it part of a Rails to Trails bike path.  But Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts said today (Monday) that the Forest Service was wrong to claim that it owns the trail.  Brandt was represented by the Mountain States Legal Foundation and attorney William Perry Pendley.

“This 83 acres that he obtained from the forest service in exchange for some 220 acres that his father conveyed to the forest service is his to use, it does not belong to the United States.  The United States cannot put a trail on it.”

He doubts the public will notice much of an impact.

“Our anecdotal evidence is that over the entire life of the trail, no more than 50 bikers have been on it.  It’s really not a good location for a trail, it’s at 9000 feet, it’s under snow from late October till June.” 

Pendley says his client is also suing the government for compensation.  He says this ruling should pave the way for similar cases across the country.