Wyoming Checkerboard Lands Missouri Hunters in Hot Water

The incident occurred last year east of Rawlins and the HMAs affected by the Rock Springs RMP amendments, when the group tried to access public lands interspersed among private parcels of roughly the same size.

Owners of the private areas consider it unneighborly for outsiders to hopscotch through their land by crossing from one public section to another at the corners where they meet, according to a story dated November 10 by The Wall Street Journal.

“Their land” taken to mean all of it.

The case involved the use of a fence ladder to effect the crossing, shown in an August 23 report by WyoFile.

Apparently, at one of the corners, the landowner, or an agent thereof, drove T-posts into the ground and wrapped them in chains to prevent anyone from crossing at that point.

Note the marker between the posts at the bottom of the photo in the WyoFile article.

Here is an example from the Virginia Range.  Lands in this area are privately owned.

Storey County Section Marker 11-13-22

The private parcels in Wyoming are owned by Elk Mountain Ranch, indicated by the signs in the WyoFile image.

Elk Mountain Ranch is owned by Iron Bar Holdings, which is controlled by North Carolina pharmaceuticals magnate Fredric Eshelman.

The four men were acquitted of criminal trespass charges in state court earlier this year, but Iron Bar has since filed a civil trespassing complaint against them, which will be heard in federal court in 2023.

The map provided by WSJ suggests the ranch occupies the same space as the Home Ranch Allotment, which can be found in the Western Watersheds map.

Home Ranch Allotment Map 11-13-22

Turns out that Iron Bar holds all of the active AUMs in the allotment, making Eshelman a public-lands rancher!

This explains the remark about “their land” above.

Elk Mountain is probably the base property that secures grazing preference on the public parcels.

The allotment is in the Custodial category, probably because most of the acreage and forage are associated with non-BLM lands.

As for the BLM resources, the allotment offers 585 AUMs per year on 7,152 public acres, or 81.8 AUMs per year per thousand acres, enough to support 6.8 wild horses per thousand acres on a twelve-month grazing season.

The BLM maintains that public lands in the western U.S. can only support one wild horse per thousand acres.

The agency also maintains that corner crossings in the Checkerboard or elsewhere are not considered legal public access.

Parachuting might be an option.

Western Horse Watchers does not know if hunters can use fence ladders to haul their trophies out of such areas.

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