County files complaint seeking public access to Scenic View Road

 By Kay Braddock

A 27-page legal brief filed by Prairie County last week in district court seeks a judgment declaring a 7-mile dirt road north of Terry a county road by virtue of prescriptive easement. Prairie County is also seeking a preliminary injunction from the court to remove a locked gate that is on the road. 
The document lists Michael and Terry Karrels as defendants. 
The Karrels placed a gate on Scenic View Road in 2007. A lock was added to the gate a year later. Talks between county officials and the Karrels came to an impasse after an October, 2009 public meeting between the two parties and officials from the Bureau of Land Management produced no compromise.
Scenic View Road leads to a popular overlook of the Terry Badlands, which rests on a large portion of BLM land. The road runs through portions of state, federal and private land. 
According to court documents filed on Friday of last week, a 1965 cooperative agreement between the BLM and county commissioners extended and improved Scenic View Road, with BLM providing the equipment and materials for the work while the county provided the construction equipment and labor. This agreement places liability on the county to maintain the road for public use, according to court documents. 
Prairie County also asserts the road has been used for both commercial and recreational use since at least 1965, according to court documents filed. Those who used the road included: Ranchers accessing BLM land where federal grazing permits were held; employees of Tongue River Electric, a local commercial well driller, and BLM officials to monitor federal grazing allotments, among others. None of these parties sought permission from landowners to use the road, according to the court documents.
The county is seeking a preliminary injunction to remove the locked gate in order to allow county road crews to maintain the road, preventing further deterioration. 

Published Sept. 22, 2010

Article Type: 
Scenic View Road


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