No Easement Granted to Owner Landlocked by National Park

Wednesday, January 09, 2019 5:51 am
January 2019 - Volume 47 Number 1

McFarland v. Kempthorne, CV 00-20-MDWM, 2006 U.S. Dist. Lexis 86111 (Mont., November 17, 2006)

A district court determined that no easement by necessity existed for the owner of property completely surrounded by Glacier National Park. Prohibition of year-round motorized access was a necessary environmental and recreational policy, said the court, and the landowner could ski or use snowshoes to access his property during the winter months.

Facts: John McFarland brought a lawsuit against the federal government to quiet title to an easement along a gravel road that he used to access his property. McFarland also challenged the National Park Service’s denial of his request for a permit to use a snowmobile to access his property during the winter. McFarland claimed an easement by necessity, an easement implied from the Homestead Act, and an express easement under the terms of a land patent. McFarland challenged the Park Service’s permit denial under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Both McFarland and the various defendants --- the Secretary of the Department of Interior, Superintendent of Glacier National Park, and National Parks Conservation Association (Defendants) --- moved for summary judgment on all of McFarland’s claims.