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County Road Rage
By Duke LaRance   

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More caustic commentary


Years ago, say prior to 1975, access to land wasn’t that much of an issue, except for dealing with certain unreasonable landowners. As more and more people from out of the area started to discover God’s Country, things began to change drastically. A recent article in the Great Falls Tribune written about attorney James Goetz stated that A. B. “Bud” Guthrie, Jr. used Mr. Goetz to torpedo a proposed subdivision across the county road from the Arrowleaf Subdivision. That subdivision was to be known as Arrowleaf West. In my years of observation, I have seen an attitude of, “I’ve got mine, but I don’t want you to get yours.” 
For a long time, I have also felt that there is an element out there that would like to build a 10 foot fence topped with razor wire along the Forest Service boundary. At the recent comment sessions held by the County Commissioners regarding the closure of roads, I believe that it has been stated more than once that any able-bodied person can access Deep Creek. What about those who are not able-bodied? Are they just SOL? Not everyone can afford to engage the services of an outfitter, and to a lot of locals such as myself, that very idea is repugnant as a method to enjoy our own backyard.
When one drives to the Letterman property, there is a county built bridge over Deep Creek. The view to the East is spectacular. It could almost be called the Grand Canyon of the Deep Creek. Right across from that County bridge, there is a locked gate. That is so convenient for ol’ Dave. That bridge has been there for a long time, and I’d like to know how those olden day Commissioners were suckered into building it.
Some time ago there was another road/bridge dispute. There was a petition road that was supposed to run down a section line. When it became time for the county to build the road itself, it was discovered that there was a marshy area that had to be crossed. I don’t know how those old “viewers” could have missed it. I don’t know, maybe they “viewed” the road from the Choteau House.
So from a point on the section line the road changed course to avoid the wet area, and a county bridge was built some distance from the line. Some people to the North had an easement to access their property along another route. They had to cross a stream by way of a culvert. The approaches to the culvert were prone to wash out during high water. These people inquired about using the aforementioned petition road and county bridge to access their land. The other landowner’s answer was to the effect of, “Not only no, but Hell no.” The only beneficiary of that taxpayer built bridge is the landowner who would not help out his neighbors.
I remember when Fish, Wildlife and Parks started to acquire what was to become the Blackleaf Wildlife Management Area. An arrogant know-it-all came to me to visit about roads. He had taken it upon himself to slap locks on several gates in the area. I asked him how he came to know that those roads weren’t public. He replied that he had made that determination. While I was smart enough not to argue with him, I think he could sense the contempt that was oozing out of all of my pores.
I remember when the county improved the Knowlton Cut-Across Road, which links the Teton Canyon Road to the Blackleaf area to the North. I know that some residents of the Blackleaf weren’t too thrilled by the idea of the county grading the road and putting in a new culvert or two. They had either accepted the fact that the road was public, or had never begrudged anyone the right to use it. They mostly didn’t care for the idea of increased traffic and likely having to rescue idiots who were too stupid to stay off the road in the winter, or when it was extremely wet.
A lot of people apparently have “researched” the roads in the area currently in dispute. I am most curious of their credentials and methodology. I am not an expert on anything, in fact I am an uneducated college dropout and backwoods country poet.
I think what chaffs a good percentage of locals are people blowing in here from whence they came trying to tell us how the cow ate the cabbage. It seems like there have been some (but not all) people spookin’ around the courtin’ house who may have a lot of horsepower and no traction. 
This is not to say that all of them aren’t qualified to research those old records. Some of them could be ax-grinders with an agenda who may be trying to prop up their preconceived notions and are hired guns, or minions of their masters. Facts can always be twisted to suit one’s needs. I wonder what a person with no set agenda would conclude. Some observers are landowners with an transparent agenda. Some are reacting as a matter of principal. With others, I am possibly detecting a self-serving undercurrent.
I have always had a tendency to think way outside the box and come up with all kinds of scenarios on issues. It seems to me that in any situation, if a seller makes a verbal representation to a buyer that subsequently is disproven, then that seller may end up tangled up in a lawsuit against someone who has a whole lot more money than he does.
©2012/duke larance/ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
duke larance – the drugstore cowboy poet

duke larance is a long-suffering observer of human nature stranded in a stagnant backwater in the exact geographic center of the middle of nowhere


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