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post #1 of (permalink) Old 01-02-2001, 04:10 PM Thread Starter
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\"Right of way access\"/ditch riding

<font face="Comic Sans MS">Ok boys and girls, this probably isn't going to be a popular post, but it's something that should probably be said.

Keep in mind that what you think may be "right of way" accesses such as the area between ditches and the roads (across private property or public property) are really not right of ways for everybody. They are "right of way" for the utility companies and nobody else. A few local snowmobilers have been driving across that area of my family's yard. I wouldn't care but they have a bit of a garden thing there and it's been a little disturbed. It's mainly the principal of the thing, if it isn't yours keep in mind not to use it without expressed written permission to operate there. The sledders using this property are also putting us at risk for a law suit. Michigan law states that if somebody injures themself on your property, you can be held responsible, even if they had no right or permission to be there anyway. Just a few thoughts to ponder. This is a part of the reason that snowmobiling can come under attack by greenie wackos so easily. Upset one land owner and they'll spread their unfavorable opinion to others.

Just a few thoughts. By the way sometime in the next year or two I should have a sled, so I'm not being hostile to sled owners, just stating some information to help keep a more favorable opinion of the sport so I'll still be able to purchase one legally in the future. [img]/wwwthreads_images/icons/crazy.gif[/img]

Have a good one guys/gals...</font>

Tim "Sandman"

ORC Land Use columnist:
My November article on ORC
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 01-02-2001, 05:08 PM
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Re: \"Right of way access\"/ditch riding

Tim you bring up some really valid points.

I worked for 8 years as a land surveyor in Alaska. While I never got registered I certainly picked up a lot of info while in the business. I also loaded up on boundary law while in college.

While every state has different laws, many road right-of-way and utility easement issues are very similar between the states.

Most rural landowners have some sort of utility easement running through their property, usually (but not always) parallel along a public road. The easement is an agreement entered into by the owners of the property with various utility companies to allow access to and through their property. It is very different from a road right-of-way or a section line right-of-way. It does NOT allow access of any other kind. Just because a ditch has a powerline running through it does NOT make it legal for you to snowmobile through it. Nor does an easement with a service road down the middle of a piece of property constitute a public road or trail. It is very, very rare that a utility easement is granted within the road right-of-way. It's pretty safe to say that us that ride powerlines are most likely trespassing on somebody's property.

If your state, like the State of Alaska does, has a law on the books about legal ORV travel within state road right-of-ways, but not on the road surface, it is up to the riders and the clubs to ascertain where that right-of-way extends to, and private property begins. Some roads, like those in my rural subdivision, do not allow enough room for sleds to ride and a place to plow snow. That's tough luck, it doesn't mean you can ride your sled through somebody's yard, or even on the berm - if it's on their property. I am thankful that our Borough (county) has had the wisdom to allow ORV traffic on Borough roads as long as they follow traffic laws. It certainly eases conflicts when we can just hop on the road and bypass any trouble spots.

It is imperative that we teach our children to ride only on public property and respect those that do not like snowmobiles on their property, as well as educate our selves and others about private property conflicts that come up.

Alaska has had the wisdom to protect private property owners with a law to protect them from being sued if somebody is injured on their property, even if the private property owner allows the trail to go through their property. It's a great law for snowmobilers and landowners alike, and I'd encourage any local club to contact their State representative to get a similar law passed in their state.

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