Letter: Railroads threaten to seize property, freedoms – Billings Gazette, Feb. 23, 2014

February 24, 2014

Categories: Coal, Landowner Rights, Letters, News


As a hunter and a person who cares about private property rights, I am concerned about what is happening in southeastern Montana right now. Landowners, many who allow public hunting access through Montana’s Block Management Program, are being threatened with seizure of their property by the Tongue River Railroad Company, owned by Burlington Northern, Arch Coal and billionaire Forrest Mars.

Tongue River Railroad Company says its railroad is in the public interest, but it is planning to ship public coal it gets for a pittance to Asia, all the while seizing Montanans’ private property against their will. I don’t see any public good in that.

The real kicker is that if the landowner needs a railroad crossing put in on their land to move their cattle or ensure their operation isn’t totally cut in half, they are liable for any accidents that happen on that crossing. That’s right, a landowner whose property was taken against their will is also made liable for any accidents that occur.

Is this how things work in Montana now?

As a hunter who appreciates landowners who allow public access to their property, I think hunters from across the state should speak up for these people who are fighting for their ranching business and their land. If we don’t safeguard each other’s private property rights, hunters may find themselves without a place to hunt.

Jared McDermott

220 South 27th Street, Suite A
Billings, Montana 59101
(406) 248-1154