Texas landowners blocking Forest Service road with gates
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Two Texas billionaire brothers have put up gates and no trespassing signs on a Forest Service road outside of Boise.
Dan and Farris Wilks’ company, DF Development LLC, is listed as the owner of lands around the Boise Ridge Road, also known as National Forest System road 374, in the Boise National Forest, KTVB-TV reported Wednesday.
The Cisco, Texas family has been purchasing massive amounts of land in Adams, Boise and Idaho and Valley counties.
The road that is currently blocked by gates is a Forest Service road near the Bogus Basin in the Boise National Forest that is popular with riders of ATVs, motorcycles and bicycles and hunters.
It’s been maintained for years with tax dollars, said Idaho Wildlife Federation Executive Director Brian Brooks.
“These people don’t have an investment in our community. And they’re far more willing to shut off access because don’t have sense of place here,” he said.
Brooks recently visited the road and encountered armed security guards with DF Development changing padlocks on the gate.
“You don’t install a gate to make it look pretty. They’re installing that thing to close it. They told me as much, the guards told me they were closing it this week right before hunting season,” Brooks said.
The Wilks have the right to block access to their private property, but whether they are allowed to put gates and no trespassing signs on a public road must still be determined, he said.
The Forest Service is researching access on Boise Ridge Road, said Venetia Gempler, the public information officer for the Boise National Forest.
The Forest Service has reached out to DF Development and hopes to come to an agreement, she said.
A local representative and lobbyist for the Wilks declined to comment.
Public access across private land has been an issue in several states. Earlier this year the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from a California billionaire who didn’t want to open a road on his property so members of the public can access a secluded beach near San Francisco.
In that case arose after Vinod Khosia purchased the property for $32.5 million in 2008 and later closed a gate to the road that serves as the only access to the beach. The previous owners allowed public access to the beach for a fee, but Khosia’s attorneys said the cost to maintain the beach and other facilities far exceeded revenue from the fees.
The Surfrider Foundation sued for access, and a state appeals court eventually found that Khosia would have to apply for a coastal development permit before he could deny public access.
The U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider Khosia’s appeal on Monday.
Information from: KTVB-TV, http://www.ktvb.com/