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Sculpin
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PostMon Jan 04, 2021 10:00 am 
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RodF wrote:
The public does not have the right to cross private property without the owner's permission (i.e. trespass)

Every time someone drives the road in front of my house, they are crossing my private property without my permission.  I own the land out to the centerline of the road.  But the drivers are not trespassing.

I guess at this point, we are talking past each other.   frown.gif

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Between every two pines is a doorway to the new world. - John Muir
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RodF
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PostThu Jan 07, 2021 7:07 am 
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Sculpin wrote:
Every time someone drives the road in front of my house, they are crossing my private property without my permission.  I own the land out to the centerline of the road.  But the drivers are not trespassing.

You are correct.  The county (or city) owns a public right-of-way on county roads (or city streets), even on those which cross private property.

However, DNR does not own a public right-of-way on private roads accessing trust lands.  The law does not give DNR any responsibility to purchase or maintain public rights-of-way on private roads accessing trust lands.

We should not talk past one another.  We should understand the law and accept facts.  Even if we might not like them.  (Perhaps especially when we don't like them, as yesterday's events exemplify all too pointedly.)

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"of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt" - John Muir
"the wild is not the opposite of cultivated.  It is the opposite of the captivated” - Vandana Shiva
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altasnob
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PostThu Jan 07, 2021 9:37 am 
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The road in question is not a state or county road, per Snohomish County. But that does not necessarily prove that DNR is not one of the owners of the road. I assume DNR owns the road on DNR land (who else would own it?). I also assume DNR pays to maintain the road through DNR land on Stinson Mountain and has an easement right to use that road to get to the rest of the DNR land on the other side of the private property. Otherwise, how would DNR be able to log the land on Stinson Mountain? I was trying to investigate whether DNR had some sort of arrangement with Pilchuck and the island of private property to split costs maintaining this "private" road (as all parties benefit and use this the road).

The question remains if DNR is spending public money maintaining the road through DNR property to the island of private property, and presumably has an easement right to drive logging trucks on the road through the private property, why does this easement not also allow the public to travel along this road as well, via, bike, and horse? Does the easement specifically say only DNR logging trucks can travel through the property and no one else?

My public record request to DNR did not answer these questions. I asked DNR for:

"Records showing that the public has easement rights to use the road that crosses private property to access Stinson Mountain, parcel number 32050100401000, 9515 N Cedarvale Loop Rd, Arlington, WA 98223-8607, owned by Amy Kathleen Smith."

DNR recently responded:

"DNR has made a diligent and good faith effort to locate records that are responsive to your request. After speaking with staff, we do not have any records related to this request. If you believe that we are mistaken, please provide a more detailed description of the records you are seeking and we will make every effort to locate them.

Scott Miller
Public Disclosure Coordinator
Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
360-902-1393"

I may follow up with additional information to see if that helps DNR answer the questions above.
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RodF
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PostThu Jan 07, 2021 11:19 am 
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altasnob wrote:
I assume DNR owns the road on DNR land (who else would own it?).

DNR does not "own" the road, nor does DNR own the land beyond it.

Stimson Hill is State Forest Transfer Trust land, owned by the Trust.  DNR merely manages it as trustee, for the benefit of trust beneficiaries, which are "Counties and junior taxing districts" (schools, etc.).

"The public" (hunters, hikers, ATV riders, etc.) are not beneficiaries of the trust, nor owners of trust lands or roads.

Easements are negotiated for use shared private roads, under which either party may maintain it when and to the extent they need to for their separate purposes.  Easements typically do not require either party to maintain it for other users, nor share any costs incurred by other users.  DNR maintains is only when and to the extent they need to for the purpose of management of trust land.

altasnob wrote:
...why does this easement not also allow the public to travel along this road as well, via, bike, and horse?

"The public" is not a beneficiary of the trust, nor an owner of the road or of the land.

Again, I suggest you read page 4 of DNR's "Washington Trust Lands Road" brochure, which explains the legal facts very plainly:

Quote:
Unlike county roads and state highways, trust roads are not public roads.

MYTH:  Trust land roads are ‘public’ roads like county roads, so it’s not a trespass.
FACT: Unlike county roads and state highways, trust roads are not public.  They belong to the trusts.  Many [not all, not even most] are open to the public for recreation access; however, trust roads may be closed at any time.  Uses such as hauling timber and residential access require easements or permits from DNR...  unless the use occurred prior to state ownership or before 1903.  Use without legal access is considered trespassing.

DNR is simply obeying state law, listed and linked to in postings above.

altasnob wrote:
I asked DNR for:

"Records showing that the public has easement rights to use the road that crosses private property to access Stinson Mountain..."

DNR has responded to your request: no such easement exists.  (And if you'd been willing to read and accept what the law says is the law whether we might like it or not, you'd understand why DNR has no authority to gain such an easement, and might not have made this futile request?  Please read the DNR brochure and the RCW Title 79 chapters I've posted.)

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"of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt" - John Muir
"the wild is not the opposite of cultivated.  It is the opposite of the captivated” - Vandana Shiva
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altasnob
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PostThu Jan 07, 2021 1:51 pm 
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Yes, the Stinson DNR land is technically managed for the beneficiaries of the trust, which is the county, schools, ect (all public entities). But this is also true of other DNR lands like Tiger, Capital Forest, Green Mountain, ect. that have trails and roads all over them that the public is allowed to walk up and down. The brochure you site is explaining to people why they do not have the right to drive on DNR lands unless the road is specifically open to public vehicles. The brochure does not address whether the public may walk up and down DNR trust lands.

Just because DNR did not find records of an easement in response to my public records request does not mean that there is no easement association with Stinson DNR land. First, if there is no easement allowing DNR logging trucks to drive across the island of private property, how is DNR able log the land above the private property? The fact the area above appears to be recently logged suggest such an easement exists. Second, an easement is recorded against the burdened property, not the benefited property. So an easement allowing DNR logging trucks to drive across this island of private property would be recorded against the private property, not DNR property. I thought that DNR may have a copy of this easement in their records and apparently they do not (or technically, say they did not find it after a diligent search). But that does not mean it does not exist. I would have to pay money to have a title search of the island of private property to determine with certainty whether such easement exists.

Another note, a beneficiary does not get to determine how a trust in managed. So in this context, the beneficiaries (Snohomish County, schools, ect) do not get to tell DNR how to manage the land. DNR has a fiduciary duty to get top dollar from the trust land for the beneficiaries. But my overall point is how does walking up this road in any way prevent DNR from getting top dollar for their beneficiaries?
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RodF
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PostThu Jan 07, 2021 7:35 pm 
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altasnob wrote:
The brochure does not address whether the public may walk up and down DNR trust lands.

That's not the issue here.  You stated this is a PRIVATE road across PRIVATE property.

altasnob wrote:
Just because DNR did not find records of an easement in response to my public records request does not mean that there is no easement association with Stinson DNR land. First, if there is no easement allowing DNR logging trucks to drive across the island of private property...

That is not what you asked them!  You asked for "Records showing that the public has easement rights to use the road that crosses private property to access Stinson Mountain..."  , and DNR told you they have no such records.

There may be an easement... but not for public use, only for use of the trustee (DNR) to access Trust land for the purpose of managing Trust land for its beneficiaries.  And DNR doesn't have it, but the County Recorder will.

altasnob wrote:
Second, an easement is recorded against the burdened property, not the benefited property.

Yes, that's exactly what I told you 3 pages ago, and where it to find it: in the County Recorder's Office.

altasnob wrote:
I would have to pay money to have a title search of the island of private property to determine with certainty whether such easement exists.

No, simply walk into the County Recorder's office and request all records associated with that parcel.  They have an online database.  Printing any you wish on paper costs 10 cents/page.  Or in many counties now, you may find it online for free.  These are public records.  It's easy.

(I find no easement on this parcel online.  However, King Co. has not digitized records earlier than 1991.  Any older easement will be on microfilm in their office.

I'm just an amateur, but have done six title searches in three counties, to retrieve deeds, surveys, easements, liens, UCC filings etc., and found the recorder's offices go out of their way to be helpful and make it easy.  I suggest it's a very useful process to be familiar with before buying or selling, or borrowing or lending against, any real property, whether as an individual, as personal representative of an estate, as trustee of a trust, or for an LLC etc.)

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"of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt" - John Muir
"the wild is not the opposite of cultivated.  It is the opposite of the captivated” - Vandana Shiva
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RodF
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PostFri Jan 08, 2021 5:10 am 
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altasnob wrote:
Another note, a beneficiary does not get to determine how a trust in managed.

Correct.  And more to the point here, non-beneficiaries (that's us hikers) sure don't.  Nor does the trustee (DNR).  The state legislature determines how the State Forest Transfer Trust is managed.

State law simply does not make the provision of public easements the trustee's (DNR's) responsibility. 

altasnob wrote:
But my overall point is how does walking up this road in any way prevent DNR from getting top dollar for their beneficiaries?

I'm completely sympathetic to this point.  One might speculate that may cost more (or require more DNR staff time, which also costs money) to negotiate easements for (frequent, continuous) public use than for (intermittant) trust use, as some property owners may perceive it compromises their privacy, increases their risk of additional trespassing outside of the road corridor, break-ins of vacation cabins, theft, trash, fires, homeless squatters, etc.?*  And it might cost more DNR staff time to patrol the road?*  This potentially opens a "can of worms" that the legislature hasn't tackled.  Anything which potentially raises DNR's costs may cut revenue to local taxing districts, and potentially raise local property taxes.  So this is a political issue, outside the scope of this forum.

In summary, we could take Chasson's argument to our state legislators (not to the courts, as Chasson apparently argues).  But it's not appropriate to argue with DNR, who are simply obeying the law as it is, not as we wish it to be.  Nor is it helpful to argue among ourselves. 

It is useful for us to recognize the law is what it is.  So we might obey it by phoning a property owner and asking permission (that often works!  or at least, it did, pre-covid-19...).  Or so we might know when we're breaking it!   wink.gif


* In case you feel these concerns are merely hypothetical, we've seen all these play out locally in the negotiation of easements for the Olympic Discovery Trail.  It ain't abstract!  It cost real $, took years, and denial of easements resulted in several convoluted detours in the trail route.  I served on a trail committee for state parks commission, which involved one trailhead about which local property owners got hyperventilated about their own neighbors.  I even served on a jury in a public right-of-way case... never mind the details, it just gets really messy.  The real world ain't as simple as one might assume it should be in an ideal world in which everyone seeks cooperate for the common greater good.


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"of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt" - John Muir
"the wild is not the opposite of cultivated.  It is the opposite of the captivated” - Vandana Shiva
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treeswarper
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PostFri Jan 08, 2021 7:48 am 
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Easement agreements may vary.  Log trucks can use roads if fees are agreed to in advance.  Example:  Prior to using a road, involved folks sit down and agree to terms.  Since each log load is counted, scaled and or weighed, a fee can be paid for each road.  It can easily be an amount per thousand board feet, cubic board foot, etc. or by the weight.  There is a record kept because loggers don't get paid until the loads make it to the mill.  Receipts supply the info needed.  Load amounts are tallied and fees are collected based on that.  Or, a lump sum amount might be agreed on with no load count needed.  I've seen a logger "pay" to use a road by giving the land owner a fifth of whiskey and a handshake.  Probably not too smart, but it worked.

An agreement can also be made on maintenance.  For example, a user agrees to blade the road and clean culverts prior to hauling and after the haul.

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What's especially fun about sock puppets is that you can make each one unique and individual, so that they each have special characters. And they don't have to be human––animals and aliens are great possibilities
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