Roads through DeBeque-area ranch closed again over concerns about Garfield County work
The Daily Sentinel
A locked gate is again barring public access to two roads through the High Lonesome Ranch west of De Beque at least for the short term, so a federal appeals court can consider allegations that Garfield County has done inappropriate road work and caused damage to ranch property.
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on Aug. 20 granted the ranch’s request for an emergency order letting it close the roads. The ranch also has renewed its request for a longer-term stay suspending a ruling by U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson last December pending its appeal of that ruling. Jackson found that North and Middle Dry Fork roads are public based on historic public use, and ordered the ranch to open a gate on North Dry Fork, also known as Garfield County Road 200, which was barring access to the stretches of road in question.
In February, the appeals court turned down the ranch’s request to let it keep the locked gate in place pending the appeal.
The appeals court granted the new emergency order while it hears more from the county and ranch about the road work concerns. The county is due to file a brief on the issue today and the ranch has until Tuesday to respond.
According to a recent court motion by the ranch, its concerns arise from work the county did on the disputed roads between July 26 and Aug. 13. The ranch says the Dry Fork valley experienced heavy rains during several storms between July 14 and 31, and large debris flows occurred in the upper Dry Fork and the nearby Kimball Creek valley. The area had been left vulnerable to flooding due to burn scars from last year’s Pine Gulch Fire.
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The ranch says the county sent heavy machinery onto the roads and private property, grading the roads and permanently altering their locations, in some places more than doubling their prior width. It contends that work destroyed evidence of the roads’ location and width, matters that remain a matter of dispute in the appeal.
Read more via The Daily Sentinel.
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