Rails to trails lawsuits hinge on historic right of way agreements
December 30, 2022 — In northern California, close to 300 private landowners are suing the federal Department of Justice over the Great Redwood Trail. Planning efforts for the future recreational trail are the responsibility of a state agency after the Surface Transportation Board, a national body that regulates railroads, ruled that the span of line between Willits and Eureka can be abandoned and railbanked.
But portions of the trail run through or alongside private property, and some of those landowners
are demanding compensation for land they say was taken from them by the Surface Transportation Board’s decision. They maintain that the value of their property has been degraded. John Leshy, Emeritus Professor at UC Hastings College of the law, is author of the book, “Our Common Ground: A History of American’s Public Lands.” From their beginning, railroads have played a central role in the interplay of public and private property...