View Full Version : Attn re EJS: Big trouble with Lower Helldorado & Strike Ravine

RockcrawlingTJ a.k.a. Justin
March 31st, 2004, 06:52 AM
Just keep this in mind if you plan on using these trails, this couple may cause you a problem.


Moab couple, OHVs on collision course

Dispute with San Juan heats up over ownership of road

By Donna Kemp Spangler
Deseret Morning News

The 5,000 or so off-road vehicle enthusiasts expected to descend on Moab over the weekend are looking for rough roads. But they could run into some unexpected bumps.
A popular trail known as Strike Ravine near the headwaters of Kane Springs Canyon is locked in a bitter dispute between San Juan County and a Moab couple who claim ownership of the road and want to keep the rumble of Jeeps off their land.
Kiley Miller and John Rzeczycki have tried to keep the road that crosses their 160-acre parcel closed to off-highway vehicles (OHVs). But San Juan County says it can't stop OHV-ers from using the trail because it is a county road.
The upcoming annual Easter Jeep Safari, now in its 38th year and expected to draw 5,000 Jeep enthusiasts and about 1,500 vehicles, has Miller frantic.
"It's total anxiety," Miller said. "I'm definitely stressed out about it."
The organizers, Red Rock 4-Wheelers, say it is clear they have a right to use the road, but they will steer clear ? for now.

"We will exclude or bypass that route," said Marty Avalos of Red Rock 4-Wheelers. "But that's not to say there won't be renegades."
San Juan County Sheriff Mike Lacy said he won't keep OHV-ers off the trail.
"We consider it a county road," he said. "We've been instructed to keep it open during that weekend."
It's an age-old conflict over who owns rural roads. But in an unusual twist, this dispute centers on whether private landowners own the road across their land or whether it is a pre-existing right-of-way owned by the county.
No actual legal deeds to the road exist to clear up the issue.
"We have so many roads," noted San Juan County attorney Craig Halls. "The majority of our roads don't have deeded rights of way."
There's a statutory process for closing a road, he added. It requires a public hearing before the San Juan County Commission, which determines whether closing it is in the best public interest.
"We've required farmers and ranchers, who over the years, want to close their roads, and a few have been closed," Halls added. "People who purchase property may own the property, but the roads are subject to an easement, and they can't just close the road."
Miller's attorney, Steve Russell, isn't so sure. "This is a little bit different," he said.
It involves state lands, not federal lands, so counties can't claim road ownership under an old mining law ? "RS 2477" ? which guaranteed states and counties the use of highways across federal land, Miller added.
At issue here is a state law that allows the counties rights of way across state lands provided they existed before Jan. 1, 1992.
"It would be my position that in order to prove it's a public road would be whether it had continuous public use. The only people who use the road is the Red Rock 4-Wheelers," Russell said. "That does not constitute a continuous public use. . . . The Red Rock 4-Wheelers are not free to use it. They have permission on a limited basis (during the Jeep Safari)."
An avid rock climber, Miller moved from California to Moab six years ago to enjoy the rugged cliffs. She and Rzeczycki fell in love with the area but couldn't afford the inflated land prices of Moab. They were excited to find a 160-acre parcel just 13 miles south of Moab for sale. It was part of an auction by the state School and Institutional Trust Land Administration (SITLA). They won the bid at a bargain price of $42,000.
"We bought this big piece of rugged land with the intention of building a house on it," she said.
Located on the property are two trails used by off-road enthusiasts, Lower Helldorado and Strike Ravine. The Lower Helldorado ? which many people agree is merely a wash ? is not part of the Easter Jeep Safari, organizers say. But the Strike Ravine has been part of the blow-out weekend since 1992.
In the transaction, SITLA didn't indicate there were county-claimed roads on the property purchased by Miller and Rzeczycki because there were no legal recordings of the claims, nor did San Juan County make its intentions known.
"It's a shame," conceded Rick Wilcox, a resource specialist with SITLA. "We've learned a lesson from this case that we make it part of the advertisement from now on."
Miller and Rzeczycki now find themselves between a rock and hard spot in the road.
"It's pretty huge doing this. There's a lot of people in this community who are going to hate me," Miller said. "It just seems like it's so inappropriate to have this total blatant use of OHVs (when) we're just trying to protect the area. This is a special place that we don't want to see it destroyed."

E-mail: donna@desnews.com

Comfortably Numb
March 31st, 2004, 08:22 AM
This is from another forum I use. The poster is Jeff Stevens who is the land use guy with Red Rocks 4 Wheelers in Moab.

"After the San Juan County Sheriff removed the fences from Strike Ravine and Lower Helldorado a couple of weeks ago, the land-owner put them back up! The fences were removed again (I do not know by who), so she went and hired an attorney. San Juan County is adamant that she can?t close the trails without going through the proper procedures, and she is insisting that she can!

At this point, I am not sure what is going to happen. We will have our attorney inform her attorney that we are going to use Strike Ravine for EJS, but who knows what she will do. The San Juan Sheriff says they will continue to remove any barricades that she installs. My suggestion, at this point, is just to avoid the Strike Ravine and Lower Helldorado trails, it?s just not worth the potential conflicts. We will continue to fight for access, along with San Juan County.

Upper Helldorado, for the time being, is unaffected by all of this, and remains open as of now.


So the San Juan County Sheriff intends to keep both Lower Helldorado and Strike Ravine open until there is a legal order stating otherwise. In the interest of projecting the best image for us as a group I'd suggest doing as Jeff is suggesting & stay away from those trails for now. RR4W & San Juan County are doing everything possible to get it all straightened out.

I'd like to know how these people actually plan to build a house & live out there. Water is scarce, definitely not enough to supply a residence. I could sympathise with them if they weren't so obviously stupid for not checking into everything before buying the land.

Grandpa Jeep
March 31st, 2004, 10:57 AM
Why should we back down? The sheriff and the county is on our side. Obviously we should be on our best behaviour and not vandelize anything and give her any ammo, but I don't see why we shouldn't use the trail. It seems to me that if we volentarily stop using the trail than she has won by default. In fact I think we should have responsible wheelers out on the trail in droves to keep the idiots from doing something stupid in retaliation. This seems like a good time to show that we can police our own and maybe this lady will drop her fight. Just a thought anyway. I'm not going to EJS so you don't have to worry about what I will do.

Comfortably Numb
March 31st, 2004, 05:35 PM
Newest development: There is an emergency hearing in San Juan County court to decide if RR4W can run the Strike Ravine trail for EJS. It will be Friday morning April 2. Word should be out concerning the decision by Friday afternoon.

April 1st, 2004, 02:22 AM
Originally posted by Grandpa Jeep:
In fact I think we should have responsible wheelers out on the trail in droves to keep the idiots from doing something stupid in retaliation. This seems like a good time to show that we can police our own and...Sounds like what we should do in Lefthand Canyon. Sorry for the thread hijack.

Good schtuff, Comfortably Numb.

April 1st, 2004, 03:04 AM
Originally posted by Comfortably Numb:
Newest development: There is an emergency hearing in San Juan County court to decide if RR4W can run the Strike Ravine trail for EJS. It will be Friday morning April 2. Word should be out concerning the decision by Friday afternoon. Keep us posted would you? I see no reason why this road should be closed for the safari. A ruling that it could be run would be very favorable for later court battles which I am sure we will see.

One question for the Millers - presuming they ever can build a house on there worthless land and "deflower the wilderness" how are they going to access it?

April 1st, 2004, 03:32 AM
I agree that the road should be used this season. If it is not that will just put an additional break in the continuous use ruling and will work against our usage.

April 1st, 2004, 05:10 AM
sorry for this ahead of time.

this is just another example of some ass from california coming here and wanting his shit all to himself. i have seen 20-30 roads closed the same way. it is too bad he is to selfish to realize that people were here before he was using this land for all knds of fun adventures. I hope the county of san juan will be better at protecting public land access than the gov't in colorado has been. If more of his kind move to moab then there would be no trails, and then no economy. the people of moab should be up in arms about someone from california, buying a peice of desert they will never live on, and trying to CALIFORNCATE IT.i'd love to meet this guy and talk with him but i'm sure he is much too impotent for that. graemlins/flagribbon.gif

Comfortably Numb
April 1st, 2004, 01:07 PM
Actually Moab is full of these kind of people. But most of them only stay for a few years & then move on to other places.

Unfortunately I am leaving for Moab tomorrow morning to lead a trip into Beef Basin for the weekend. That means I will not have any info on the decision until Monday evening at the soonest. But for those who really want to know what is happening you can go to www.rockymountainextreme.com (http://www.rockymountainextreme.com) & check their land use forum. That is where Jeff is posting the info that I copied & pasted here, I'm sure he will have posted the results of the hearing by tomorrow evening.

Comfortably Numb
April 5th, 2004, 05:36 PM
OK, I'm back & got the scoop. this is copy & paste from Rocky Mountain Extreme:

"The court ruled pretty much as we expected today. The Strike Ravine trail is to remain open for now, but the landowners will be allowed to close Lower Helldorado. San Juan County is claiming both trails. I'm sure there will be more legal battles, and the ultimate outcome remains to be seen. As we suspected, unless we can prove that Lower Helldorado was a road prior to 1992, there seems to be little chance of saving it.