Posted By Toutle Trekker

So now it is time to jump into some bit of controversy concerning access to our public lands in the Toutle Valley (and around the state).  I've already talked about "official" access routes to various parcels of state and federal land in the valley, but, behind the scenes, I have been pushing government agencies and elected officials about a more hidden layer of access: road easements.  It turns out that many of the gated roads that you might run into that are posted by Weyerhaeuser may have state easements on them that go to public land.  These roads are currently posted with signs that claim that a Weyerhaeuser permit is required for all recreational access, even if these roads go to state land.  In fact, the gate nearest the sediment dam (below) blocks a road with TWO government easements on it, both of which could allow public access to adjacent public land.  Weyerhaeuser owns the land on the right side of the road.  Now, keep in mind, these easements do not let folks walk or hunt or hike on private land, they only allow access through on certain roads leading to public land. 

Posted gate

Most of these easements are between timber companies and the state Department of Natural Resources.  Many were written in the 1960's and 1970's when both entities where logging new territory, and they needed to pass each other's lands.  One relavent easement, the Green River Easement, was written in October of 1967 and has no restrictions on how the road can be used. The easement simply provides access to and from lands of the parties.  The DNR says that public use of these easements is a "grey" area, but a closer look at the history shows that broadly worded easements were written this way in response to pro-recreation laws that passed the Washington legislature in mid-1967.  Unfortunately, easements written before mid-1967 often have restrictive language that limits use to "land management and administrative activities".

What this means for the Toutle Valley:  Right now access to our state lands is mostly at the whim of Weyerhaeuser.  The WDFW does have and "administrative-type" easement on the 3100 road, but the public isn't covered by that.  If the DNR could confirm that the public could at least walk or bicycle on roads covered under the Green River Easement, access routes would open up to the Winston Block of DNR land (16,000 acres just north of Kid Valley), the 8,000-acre Wildlife Area would have three or four additional access routes, and the 35,000-acre Toutle State Forest could be accessed from Sediment Dam Road. 

It's complicated, but right now is the time to contact your legislator, the heads of the DNR, and WDFW and to encourage them to confirm that the public may used these easement routes to access state land. 


3 Comment(s):
Toutle Trekker said...
Can you say LAWSUIT. Everyone knows there's a bad security guy in a Toyota. He harasses folks parked on public land. I've run into him myself. I was walking the Sediment Dam Road (above) toward the gate to get some new pictures of their new "area under video surveillance" sign. He asked me if I had a permit. I said I was on public land. He scratched his head and said that he knew the property line was around here somewhere. I pointed to the left hand side of the gate. (I didn't want to let him know I knew all about the easements here.)
November 5, 2021 09:14:45
Perry Foreman said...
I paid weyco 325 dollars to go up the 1900 and enjoy the green river with the kids and a weyco security named Gary exploded on me and ran my foot over and pulled my permit because I asked him what the eff he was thinking and I'm out 325 bucks and i was never even inside the gate. Its BS and my kids are traumatized now.
August 16, 2021 11:42:41
Kaleb said...
It is hard to believe these companies can get away with making people pay to walk to public land. What a rip off.
July 13, 2020 02:59:58
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