In case anyone was wondering about the $7.75 million clamed damages, the claim is that allowing corner-crossing would cause the ranch to lose 25% of its value, and the ranch is currently valued at $31.1 million. Details:

(I'm not justifying this claim, of course, just providing information in case anyone was wondering where the number came from.)

Edit: the number came from a real estate agent acting as an expert witness, who said he would drop the value by 25% or 30%; it's not a mathematical/geometrical argument.

For those out of the loop just as I was:

> What they had done was place an A-frame ladder across an intersection of property boundaries, the location where four parcels of land meet at a point. They climbed up one side of the ladder from public land, and down the other side of the ladder, stepping kitty-corner onto a different parcel of public land. But in doing so, their bodies also crossed through the airspace of the other two parcels meeting at that point, which were private. Their trial, set for mid-April, will decide if they trespassed when they passed through that private airspace.

This sounds so constructed, as if they wanted to provoke the precedent.

Great ruling. The private/public checkerboard is pretty bizarre in the first place. A much more forethought approach would be to add a public buffer around everything (basically shrink the private plots by 6' or so).
It's bizarre to me that this is even an issue at all. How does the landowner justify millions of damage even if they had walked on his land? Is there no right to cross private property if that's the only reasonable way to reach public land? There should be.
Is it me, or does anyone else find it frustrating that reporters reporting about some court case habitually cannot quote the exact ruling and link to PDF that people can read for themselves?

It's not like they didn't have the source material to base the story on, so why can't they pass that along to the reader in this day and age, to credit the source?

But no, apparently a retold story in someone else's words is better than being able to read the 50-page document that actually lays out the ruling..

Excellent outcome.

Previous discussion:

On a sidenode, in Germany, where land is much more sparse, there are usually trespassing rules. First, if a land (public or private) is inaccessible, there's usually a trespassing note added to the land register, marking where either the public or the other land owner is allowed to walk/drive/pass through. The owner of the trespassed land is not allowed to remove or block these e.g. driveways.

Then there is the other case of large agriculture or forest lands. Without a specific reason, you are not allowed as a land owner to close this off to the public. Forests are to be held accessible to the public (e.g. for nature recreation), even if you own them. Even for farm land with animals, it is usually accepted that people (hikers, mountainbike etc.) pass through these. In case of fences for animals, it is also generally accepted to climb over these (of course, you're responsible for damage either to the property or yourself*).

And a last anecdotal note: I have a friend who hikes with a group of 3-4 people every year based on (pretty) straight lines through Germany. They usually sleep on the ground (without tents) wherever they are when night comes. This is often on private land. Their experiences were almost all positive, land owners even come to bring them water, to talk etc. Some first watch curiously but are fine when the story is told.

* There's a strange ruling that you, as an owner, can be held liable for people hurting themselves on your ground, even when they're (e.g.) thieves trying to break into your property. I think this ruling is created to prevent land owners creating traps, where children can fall into holes etc.

I would be a terrible rich person, since I wouldn't care one whit about someone crossing "my airspace". Hell, I'd donate an acre to to the state at the corner just to let people cross. Fred Eshelman has a large fraction of a billion dollars at his disposal and has given away over $100 million dollars to UNC, just chalk this up as a donation and walk away.
I want to buy a fractal-shaped piece of land, that has zero area (thus should be cheap), but corner-locks the whole Earth.
I really wish we could pass a federal "right to roam" like they have in England.

Nobody should be the sole owner of a beach, lake, river, or mountain.

The most bizarre thing about this situation is that IT WAS ALWAYS ILLEGAL FOR THE LANDOWNER TO BLOCK LAND THIS WAY. Since 1885.


I'm surprised landowners in Wyoming own the airspace above their land. Normally you are only allowed to control as much airspace as required for the ordinary enjoyment of your property (for buildings and such).
Steve Rinella of Meateater interviewed the hunters in this case on his podcast.

It is quite an entertaining listen - 1:03 is where he explains the background and 1:08 onwards is where the interview starts:

What is this claimed $7.5 million in damages by stepping over a corner of land about? The wooden beam from the photograph got scratched or something?
US$7.75 million in damages for (rereads it) stepping on someones property? That's some next-level douchebaggery right there. It's a shame the lawyers involved won't get sanctioned for not telling their PoS client "that's not going to go over well"[1].

[1] "Any damages Eshelman would claim for that alleged transgression would be limited to “nominal damages” and not the $7.75 million Eshelman had claimed in lost ranch value, the judge wrote."

The owner should pay millions in fines for illegally blocking access to public land for so many years.
The only explanation of why these inaccessible pieces of land I can find [0] fails to explain why they were created this way. Does anyone know?

Apparently to encourage railways railway builders were given every other square mile of land on each side of the railway. But that should only create 2 "rows" of checkers, each accessible either from above or below. The only way to create a full checkerboard would be to build multiple railways, in parallel, only 2 miles apart. I cannot believe people did that, so what am I missing here?


In case folks from outside the region are wondering how this situation came to be:
This is bizarre.

I’m all for property rights but if you own a big chunk of land …. this seems less consequential than someone stepping off the sidewalk onto my lawn, or an out of control kid crashing their bike into my yard…

Anyone using the ladder in the photo seems VERY considerate.

Swedes have this figured out. Never would work in America, but I’m all for it.
This always seemed like a matter of wealth + intent meeting a law firm willing to make the argument rather than a viable legal theory.

I can't imagine that if this was a significant cost for the party filing the suit that they would have prosecuted it.

Given the wording of the law (even absent the recent subsequent laws) you can't claim privilege over public land like that.

If the ruling were any different it would have been terrible for the idea of public lands being for public use.

Refreshing that a bit of sanity prevailed. I’ve been mad about this for months.
For some reason, this domain is blocked by my ISP's illegal content filter.

So here is a mirror:

So this means that, legally, private land is not a closed set (doesn't contain the points where boundaries touch).
The US needs a national right to roam.
I'm surprised there isn't a reasonable setback for fences abutting public lands like this
The land owner was an idiot to let this go to trial.

He'd been a lot richer if he constructed a private road and charged a toll. He'd have defacto control of who crosses and it'd be quite profitable too.

Instead he got caselaw against him and is left with nothing. Lesson about greed here!

Are we going to start seeing rounded corners on parcels now?
> The men corner-crossed in 2020 and 2021 to hunt public land enmeshed in Eshelman’s 22,045-acre ranch.

What sort of a sociopathic son of a bitch do you have to be to tie up so many resources on such a minor transgression? That dude eats babies for sure.

The sheer rapaciousness of these multi-hundred millionaires is just disgusting. I'm glad to see that public opinion is largely starting to turn against these billionaire types as "geniuses" to boils on the ass of humanity.
Uck eah! his s uch a ig in or ublic ands!