Supreme Court decision could hurt trails

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Monday in the case Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust et al., v. United States has serious implications for trails built on former railways throughout the country – even those that were converted to trails years ago, according to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

Although the case pertains to the Medicine Bow Rail Trail in Wyoming, the decision could affect rail-trails that occupy federally-granted rights-of-way, including the George S. Mickelson Trail in South Dakota, the Foothills Trail and the John Wayne Pioneer trails in Washington, the Weiser River Trail in Idaho and the Rio Grande Trail in Colorado, according to the Conservancy.

Riding the Glacial Lakes State Trail is something my family and I enjoy several times a year. Such adventures might be threatened on trails throughout the country thanks to a Supreme Court decision announced Monday.

Here’s a link to the Conservancy’s Rail-Trail Supreme Court case info web page.

As I understand it, the decision could mean that builders of rail-trails, as the Conservancy calls them, might be required to pay for land on which they’re building new trails, even though the federal government had a right-of-way for the railway. They might also be required to pay for land on which long-established rail-trails are built.

Read the material and see what you think. It seems to be another situation where we have to decide whether value in dollars overrides any other significance something might have. As for me, I appreciate the money I earn, but treasure some of the memories – like rides on a trail with my family — that would be hard to evaluate in terms of dollar-and-cents.

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