A discussion on access to the Big Five public lands area in Northern Johnson County was conducted at the county commissioner's meeting Tuesday morning in Buffalo.
Attorney Anthony Wendtland, representing landowner Kim Love, told the commissioners what they would like to see accomplished with public access to the Big Five public lands.
Wendtland continued, saying they hoped the commissioners would allow Love and public lands groups to work with county staff to get the easement surveyed and marked, even if it is not an improved road yet, so people can legally access the Big Five on foot without trespassing on private lands.
Other landowners in the area they were in favor of allowing the public access to the Big Five, but being concerned about allowing motorized travel on the public lands. Traffic by foot and horseback they said they were alright with.
The commissioners told those attending the meeting they were looking at other possible accesses to avoid affecting private lands if possible, such as on the south end off of Rock Creek Road, where the Game and Fish has installed a gate.
Love responded to that idea.
Joe Foss responded that although they lease the lands for Ag purposes, they don't feel it is “their land,” and do not have a problem with those accessing the lands that stay on established roads, only with the ones that don't stay on the roads.
Commissioner Jim Hicks suggested looking for an alternative for the easement because it creates a problem for one particular landowner. He said there could be a compromise between Love and Foss and other landowners to find a better access elsewhere that works better for everyone.
Love responded by saying, “I think that's an excellent idea.”
Commission Chair Delbert Eitel said the county will discuss the issue with the State Lands Board and work on finding the easement for the proposed county road.