Part of trail privately owned

Legal matter briefly closes section of recreation route



Greg and Lisa Hall enjoy a sunny fall afternoon walk along the Yampa River Core Trail in Steamboat Springs on Tuesday. A small section of the trail was closed for about 12 hours Sept. 26 as a private property owner exercised his right over the portion built on his land.

— Users of the Yampa River Core Trail were detoured for about 12 hours Sept. 26, as a private property owner exercised his right over a portion of the trail that was apparently built on his land.

Tony Lettunich, attorney for the city of Steamboat Springs, said Friday that a small portion of the city-owned trail is actually located on a portion of Jay Biedenharn's land. Biedenharn's portion of the trail is located between Fetcher Pond and the Fish Creek Falls Bridge near Alpine Lumber.

Lettunich described the portion as a small sliver of the trail, about 2 1/2 to 3 feet in length. Biedenharn's entire property is a 40-acre parcel that extends across the Yampa River near Howelsen Hill.

Lettunich said discrepancies between conflicting 10-year-old surveys of the land are to blame for the oversight that caused part of the public trail to be built on Biedenharn's property. Biedenharn, a Texas resident, sent a letter to the city several years ago after realizing the trail was located on his land, Lettunich said.

"We're not denying that a sliver of the trail runs through his property," Lettunich said.

Steamboat Springs attorney Mike Holloran, who is representing Biedenharn, said he could not comment on the matter until he had spoken with his client. Calls to Biedenharn's home were not returned.

Holloran did not believe there was any conflict with the way the two parties view the situation.

The Sept. 26 closure was the result of Biedenharn's concern that if he continued to allow the public to use the trail, he would give up certain property rights. A legal process known as adverse possession stipulates that a private property owner gives up rights to that property if he or she allows the public to use it for 18 consecutive years.

By closing the trail for 12 hours, Biedenharn essentially was setting the clock back to zero.

"It appears he's most concerned about the period of time this encroachment has been going on," Lettunich said.

During the closure, which both city officials and Bieden-harn agreed on, Biedenharn hired two off-duty Steamboat Springs police officers to ensure Core Trail users used a detour and not the trail.

Police Capt. Joel Rae said the closure did not cause any issues.

In the meantime, city officials are working with Biedenharn and his attorney to negotiate ways the city could obtain the sliver of the Core Trail, Lettunich said. Possibilities have ranged from the city's request for a donation to purchasing the land from Biedenharn.

"We're not trying to acquire through adversarial use," Lettunich said.

Biedenharn now has another 18 years to work through the matter, though neither side anticipates negotiations will take that long.

"Hopefully (Biedenharn) is satisfied, and we can have a little more time to discuss our options to acquire the property amicably," Lettunich said. "We're very preliminary."

-To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234

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dimwitiguess 9 years, 6 months ago

I think the core trail needs a by-pass in that area!! I know, i'm just a dimwitiguess.


thecondoguy1 9 years, 6 months ago

I think the city should move the trail, for this little bit it's not worth the time and effort to negociate a easement or purchase, it is the guys property, give it back...........


thecondoguy1 9 years, 6 months ago

the above tirade not directed at ido4.............


corduroy 9 years, 6 months ago

sounds like this guy just wants to be a jerk about it. You have a beautiful trail running through property that you barely are ever on yourself.. wah wah


id04sp 9 years, 6 months ago


The problem would come in when the owner tried to sell the property at a later time and there was a question over the title to the land because of the adverse possession. He's doing the right thing.

Banks normally require a survey before granting a mortgage. The survey would show the problem with the trail. That would hold up the entire process.

Some slimy lawyer would make the owner live to regret it if he did not protect himself. That's life in the 'Boat.


thecondoguy1 9 years, 6 months ago

that's life anywhere in these free United States, you worked to pay for it, you own it, the law protects you and private property rights, when the government starts taking property even by the square inch, we have lost, it's called communism, the elimination of private property rights, is the beginning of standing in line all day for a potato, no thanks, get an education please......... GOD BLESS AMERICA...........................................


twostroketerror 9 years, 6 months ago

The man was wise and prudent. If you don't follow all the 'little' rules, you will get screwed.


Hill_S 9 years, 6 months ago

While we are on the topic of strange Core Trail occurences, is the section between Fish Creek and the Botanical Gardens going to be closed next? I saw 2 new "No Trespassing" signs in the middle of the river there this morning. I'm guessing those are a result of private property on the east side of the river, as I'm unaware of private property on the west side in that stretch.


colobob 9 years, 6 months ago

I see no problem with the man protecting what is rightfully his. He hired two off-duty policemen to close that small section of trail for 12hrs. Big deal! He hasn't posted it or put up a fence although he could have, and he is once again allowing its use. How many out there wouldn't do the same thing if they were in his position. How many out there would have taken a different stand alltogether and just said tough and closed it permenantly? He's just doing the smart and logical thing. If there is any blame to be handed out it should go to whoever laid out the trail. There are reasons for surveys and if a proper survey isn't done or done correctly these types of things will happen. In my book he did the right thing then and and is doing the right thing now by allowing its use to continue.


dimwitiguess 9 years, 6 months ago

He could donate it to the city and take a tax write-off, or he could sell it to the city. Or he could give it to me and I'd put up a toll gate. I'd be like a robber baron. That's what makes me a dimwitiguess!


s_jroutt 9 years, 6 months ago

I'm glad he told them no. Just a question for you all... Would you like strangers running or walking there dogs at all times of the day or night on your property?


thecondoguy1 9 years, 6 months ago

I don't think dimwit is such a dimwit after all............. there is some good thinking there, sarcasm is an effective communication if you are on your toes..............


JQPUBLIC 9 years, 6 months ago

Where does this guy stand legally if someone were to get hurt or bit by a users dog, etc. while on this guys property? The way the courts are today he'd probably lose a court case even if the city is there illegally.


thecondoguy1 9 years, 6 months ago

if my dog bites sombody it will be on his property, easier to sue him than the city..........


steamvent 9 years, 6 months ago

If the police officers were off duty, then why were they tying up two patrol cars for the whole time? They were parked at either end of the closed trail. Does anyone ever look into this stuff?


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