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  1. #1
    Trail Cubist
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    Question about BLM land access...

    I'm wondering about access to BLM lands in Oregon. Google didn't find anything specific to Oregon, but did turn up the following about BLM lands in Montana:

    Most public lands administered by BLM are open year round to public use. The public can use these lands for recreation unless the lands have been officially closed to fire danger or other emergency hazard.

    Public roads, thoroughfares or waterways may be used to gain access to public lands. The public cannot cross private lands to reach public land if no public thoroughfare exists. The landowners permission must be obtained before crossing private lands to reach public lands.

    Leasing does not alter or restrict authorized public use; therefore, lessees cannot maintain locked gates, signs, or other devices on public lands. Some lessees participate in a formal program in which BLM lands can be closed to public use IF a corresponding amount of private land is made available to the public. Such lands must be clearly posted with open and closed signs. Any questions should be referred to the appropriate field office.
    I'd assume the same is true in Oregon—anyone know otherwise?

    I'm asking NOT because I plan to do anything sketchy (like go start building rogue trails on BLM land)...but I *am* interested in exploring BLM lands—either on foot or by mountain bike (to the extent it's possible).

    I recognize many BLM lands are surrounded (and "checkerboarded") by private lands, and I have no doubt that owners of said private land can potentially get irritated by someone hiking/biking around public land that's right next to their private land.

    So I'm just doing my homework to be sure it's ok for me to be on that public land (so I can politely tell any grumpy private landowners this if necessary).

    Obviously it's also necessary to know where the BLM lands are (especially in relation to adjacent private lands). There are plenty of resources and GIS data online to find that out, and it's easy enough to transfer land ownership maps to a GPS.

    As a final note, I'm obviously not talking about BLM lands developed for public use like MTB trail systems, established hiking trails, etc. What I'm talking about are the huge amounts of BLM lands that appear on a land ownership map that you wouldn't know were there unless you looked at a land ownership map (and which are often surrounded by private lands).

    If anyone has any experience with this, chime in!

    Thanks,
    Scott
    29er wheels are dangerous. They may cause you to go faster which can result in serious bodily injury. —Jim311

  2. #2
    Nat
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    AFAIK BLM land is wide open for us to explore. I've always just gone in to bike, camp, etc.

  3. #3
    Trail Cubist
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    Thanks Nat—that's my assumption...just checking to see if anyone has ever been hassled for being on BLM lands?

    The other challenge I'm contemplating is getting between the "BLM squares" and the "private squares" in areas where the ownership pattern is a perfect, alternating checkerboard. (Navigate to the very point of a corner and step across to the next BLM square?)

    I guess in some cases there might be public roads that connect the BLM squares but traverse private lands. Then I'd just want to be sure about which roads are public and which are private.

    This might not be complicated at all, except I know from experience that some private landowners will often push their ownership boundaries by slapping up "NO TRESPASSING" signs where they don't own the land just to keep people far away from their private lands.

    Scott
    29er wheels are dangerous. They may cause you to go faster which can result in serious bodily injury. —Jim311

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    The majority of non BML land in the check boards is owned / leased to logging companies. If the private land isn't gated or signed you can generally poke around. If you aren't looking for trouble, you probably won't find any. If someone tells you to get out, go ahead and get out, especially if they brandish. You will find lots of clearcuts and thick as hell reprod.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by sickdog View Post
    The majority of non BML land in the check boards is owned / leased to logging companies. If the private land isn't gated or signed you can generally poke around. If you aren't looking for trouble, you probably won't find any. If someone tells you to get out, go ahead and get out, especially if they brandish. You will find lots of clearcuts and thick as hell reprod.
    Good to know. And no, I'm not looking for trouble. (But I might politely ask why someone is telling me to get out if I'm 100% certain I'm on BLM land...only if I'm 100% certain. LOL)

    Scott
    29er wheels are dangerous. They may cause you to go faster which can result in serious bodily injury. —Jim311

  6. #6
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    Well, for example we have closures on BLM land at Alsea Falls associated with road work and timber harvest daylighting. So there could be all sorts of valid reasons such as safety to exclude people from an area.

  7. #7
    On wuss patrol
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    Thinking of checking some BLM land around Burns? They weren't looking for trouble either 😜
    Sometimes, you need to go fast enough that the trail is a blur to find clarity. -- Wild Bill

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone View Post
    The other challenge I'm contemplating is getting between the "BLM squares" and the "private squares" in areas where the ownership pattern is a perfect, alternating checkerboard. (Navigate to the very point of a corner and step across to the next BLM square?)

    This issue of moving between squares has come up here in Arizona when dealing with Arizona State Trust land (which requires a permit to use) and Forest Service land (which is open). It turns out that you CANNOT step across the 4-corners from one open piece of land to another. Doing so is considered trespassing.

    I cannot say if this is universal or particular to Arizona but it's worth knowing.

    -db-

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbflg View Post
    This issue of moving between squares has come up here in Arizona when dealing with Arizona State Trust land (which requires a permit to use) and Forest Service land (which is open). It turns out that you CANNOT step across the 4-corners from one open piece of land to another. Doing so is considered trespassing.

    I cannot say if this is universal or particular to Arizona but it's worth knowing.

    -db-
    Im quite sure we can thank some brilliant Federal Judge for that.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbflg View Post
    This issue of moving between squares has come up here in Arizona when dealing with Arizona State Trust land (which requires a permit to use) and Forest Service land (which is open). It turns out that you CANNOT step across the 4-corners from one open piece of land to another. Doing so is considered trespassing.

    I cannot say if this is universal or particular to Arizona but it's worth knowing.

    -db-
    It has come up in Montana, too. I didn't see it mentioned in what the OP found regarding BLM access in Montana. A bill legalizing corner crossing failed in our last legislative session. It was unpopular with large landowners and the ranching lobby.

  11. #11
    Trail Cubist
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    Wow, I didn't know "corner crossing" was such a big deal (at least in some places). The whole scenario sounds a bit effed-up to me; I mean, what's the point in having such checkerboarded land ownership if said checkerboards are totally isolated?

    This reminds me of the continuing debate (in some areas) about whether riparian landowners own the water? Or the bottom of the stream? Or both? (Or the water temporarily—just while it exists inside their property? LOL)

    Scott

    PS - I haven't gone walking/riding around anywhere yet on BLM land...but would like to eventually.
    29er wheels are dangerous. They may cause you to go faster which can result in serious bodily injury. —Jim311

  12. #12
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    I'd like to see a landowner prove that I set foot on their property.

    I mean, if I do a hop, skip and jump from one BLM parcel to another, of course some part of me is in the air space above their private property. But, they don't own that.

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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone View Post
    what's the point in having such checkerboarded land ownership
    In Oregon it's federal land granted to the Oregon & California Railroad Company that were eventually taken back in 1937 and handed over to BLM.

    More:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon...Revested_Lands
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Checkerboarding_(land)

    Anyway, if you haven't ridden anything on BLM land yet you're missing out. Whypass, Alsea Falls, Sandy Ridge, Mountain of the Rogue...

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by tbmaddux View Post
    In Oregon it's federal land granted to the Oregon & California Railroad Company that were eventually taken back in 1937 and handed over to BLM.

    More:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon...Revested_Lands
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Checkerboarding_(land)

    Anyway, if you haven't ridden anything on BLM land yet you're missing out. Whypass, Alsea Falls, Sandy Ridge, Mountain of the Rogue...
    Interesting tbmaddux! Didn't know that. And yes---I've ridden some great trails on federal land (Whypass, Maston, etc.--and still need to get to Alsea Falls!

    Scott
    29er wheels are dangerous. They may cause you to go faster which can result in serious bodily injury. —Jim311

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone View Post
    Wow, I didn't know "corner crossing" was such a big deal (at least in some places). The whole scenario sounds a bit effed-up to me; I mean, what's the point in having such checkerboarded land ownership if said checkerboards are totally isolated?

    This reminds me of the continuing debate (in some areas) about whether riparian landowners own the water? Or the bottom of the stream? Or both? (Or the water temporarily—just while it exists inside their property? LOL)

    Scott

    PS - I haven't gone walking/riding around anywhere yet on BLM land...but would like to eventually.
    Checkerboard land ownership across the west is the same story tbmaddux outlined. The government incentivized 19th Century railroad construction by giving the rail companies every other section in a swath along the railroad alignment. Modern access issues were never a consideration.

    Drifting... The question of steam bed/bank ownership and access is settled law in most jurisdictions. But that doesn't keep people from challenging it or trying to change the laws. It's a big issue in Montana, where we have some of the most liberal steam access laws in the nation, but also a lot of luxury properties purchased by wealthy people from out of state who don't like those access laws.

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