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Historic Milner Trail Access Threatened Near Fish Creek

Let’s talk about Historic Milner Trail. Originally carved out as a pack trail constructed by Mose Milner beginning in 1861 with a primary purpose to reach the mines further south.

As early as July 8, 1872, the Proceedings of the County Commissioners contains the following:

On Petition of F.A. Shearer for the trail running from Shearer and Sons Ferry to Florence be declared a county trail and the same is hereby declared a public trail from this date.
All the trail lying in Idaho known as the Mose Milner [trail] lying between Florence and L.P. Browns [in Mt. Idaho] is herby declared a County trail from this date.

Page 449 in Volume 2 Pioneer Days in Idaho County by Sister M. Alfreda Elsensohn

THAT WAS THEN. THIS IS NOW.

The Milner Trail has existed over a CENTURY of consistent use by citizens recreating in the great outdoors and the trail itself has witnessed the enjoyment of these recreation enthusiasts, spending quality time with family and friends in day trips, camping nearby and also snowmobiling in the winter seasons where, in cooperation between Salmon River Ranger District and the Idaho County Snowmobile Advisory Board regularly grooms the trail through segments that cross private land.

Private Property Owner INTENDS TO INSTALL A GATE BLOCKING PUBLIC from utilizing and Accessing a segment of historic Milner Trail (NFST #641 /Tollgate Rd)

Today, Milner Trail is a highly popular and very historical recreational trail used by motorized ATVs, bikes, snowmobiles and hikers exploring our beautiful Public Lands that we so aspire to protect and enjoy. Milner Trail winds over 30 miles south to a point near 4 corners and connects to Centennial Trail, opening access to exploring the beauty of our mountain forests, birds, foliage and wildlife, guiding us toward entry to the historical mining town of Florence.

On July 19, 2022, District Ranger Jeffrey S. Shinn provided a cover letter and documentation addressed to the Idaho County Commissioners asserting that “the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests were recently informed by Mr. Charles Lamm, the owner of Tax ID parcel 29N03E155710, of his intention to install a gate on his property to preclude the public from utilizing a segment of the historic Milner Trail (NFST #641, Old Florence Road / Tollgate Road). The segment of trail that would be gated is located within the W1/2W1/2 of Section 15, Township 29 North, Ranger 3 East, Boise Meridian, in Idaho County, Idaho. This same segment of trail crosses four other private parcels in addition to the one owned by Mr. Lamm. “

The letter by District Ranger Shinn goes on to state: “Since proclaimed as the Third Bitter Root Proclamation, Nezperce National Forest in 1905, the Forest Service has worked in cooperation and coordination with Idaho County, user groups, and the public to maintain, interpret and publicize the historic nature of the trail. The trail, including the segments that cross private land, is currently maintained under a Cooperative Agreement #18-CS-11011700-019, between the Salmon River Ranger District and the Idaho County Snowmobile Advisory Board. “

Forest Ranger Shinn adds “Unless documentation exists to the contrary, the Forest Service’s position is that the segment of Milner Trail crossing the five private parcels, including the one owned by Mr. Lamm, fall under the jurisdiction of Idaho County, ID.

A very key point that Shinn makes below in his letter to Idaho County Commission, clearly suggests that the burden of proof is on Idaho County to provide evidence that the public right of way has been abandoned or relinquished.

Shinn says: “With this position in mind, I am requesting Idaho County provide any evidence that the declared public right associated with the Milner Trail has been abandoned or relinquished.

Forest Ranger Shinn goes on to further define what next step he encourages the Idaho County Commissioners to take in terms of notifying Mr. Lamm:

“If no documentation exists that abandonment or relinquishment has occurred, I would encourage the Idaho County Commissioners to notify Mr. Lamm that DECLARED PUBLIC RIGHTS EXIST for the continued use and enjoyment of the Milner Trail.”

Forest Ranger Jeffrey S. Shinn

Commissioner Brandt embarks on a view that the burden of proof should be placed on citizens, to provide evidence that would validate the Idaho County portion of Milner Trail as a documented public right of way. Umm, didn’t Forest Ranger Jeffrey Shinn state in black and white that DECLARED PUBLIC RIGHTS EXIST for the continued use and enjoyment of Milner Trail??? According to Commissioner Brandt, the opposite is true and anyone in disagreement with his own fairytale, must open a petition under Idaho County code section Title 40, Highways and Bridges – Chapter 2 – General provisions to validate the public rights AND pay the $400 Idaho County FEE for filing a petition.

The modern day Milner Trail begins at the Toll Gate just off the 221 (Grangeville Salmon Road) just caddy-corner across the paved road from Fish Creek parking area. The portion of the Milner Trail referenced on this topic, cuts through several private properties. It is documented as a section of trail under the jurisdiction of Idaho County Commission.

According to a private property owner along the Idaho County portion of Milner Trail named Charles Alan Lamm, described in an Idaho County Free Press article written by Norma Staaf and published July 27, 2022, Lamm’s beef centers on “people trespassing, driving too fast, kids partying nearby until 4 a.m., people shooting on his property, falling his timber, and stealing his firewood.” The Free Press articles goes on to mention “Sheriff Doug Ulmer who also attended the meeting, encouraged Lamm to call 911 to report lawless behavior”. As of the time of the meeting, no such call had been accounted for.

We would all agree that disturbing ones peace and tranquility through the actions described above are legitimate concerns for any private property owner. But where we take exception is in one person claiming that it is his right to BLOCK EVERYONES ACCESS. We disagree with this, and will continue to fight the selfish injustice perpetuated by one angry land owner concerning who can use the segment of an historical trail that runs through his and 4 other private properties.

*************

This article is the first of a series on the MILNER TRAIL DECLARED PUBLIC RIGHTS ACCESS and one private property owner – Charles Alan Lamm – who believes citizens-at-large have NO RIGHTS, yet he asserts that he alone has EVERY RIGHT to block all of us, even those of us who are conscientious, respectful and law abiding recreation enthusiasts who enjoy access to the Milner Trail just a hop skip and a jump across the 221 from Fish Creek Meadows unloading lot.

Please help us out by sending your comments and thoughts on this issue with a single land owner trying to shut down access with a gate to block entry to Milner Trail. Send your email to info at idahopathfinders.org Or use our contact us form.

Additional Notes:

It’s a 1/2 mile distance from the start of the Milner Trail (where the Toll Gate Sign is) to where Charles Allan Lamm’s property begins. From there it’s two-tenths of a mile through Lamms property on the Milner Trail.

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