By Kay Braddock
After negotiations fell through late last year on public use of Scenic View Road, Prairie County officials agreed the county’s next step would be to take the matter to court, seeking a judge’s ruling on who owns the seven-mile dirt road that leads to a popular Bureau of Land Management scenic overlook north of Terry.
Nearly four months later, since the Oct. 30 meeting between Prairie County officials and landowner Michael Karrels, Prairie County Attorney Rebecca Convery confirmed this week the county’s intent to file a complaint before District Judge Richard Simonton.
“We had hoped to get it filed in January and January just became extremely busy with criminal matters,” Convery said.
The “self-imposed” deadline was waylaid by four felony charges, including felony DUI, drug and assault cases. Although a couple of the trials scheduled ultimately pled out, Convery explained a “substantial amount of time” was used responding to motions and briefs.
“The majority of my time has been spent in the last couple of months with criminal issues,” Convery said.
The Montana Attorney General’s office is continuing to “follow the case closely” Convery said, pointing to a Jan. 8 conference call she took part in with Attorney General Steve Bullock and Asst. Attorney General Stuart Segrest. Prairie County commissioners turned down the attorney general’s offer to act as lead counsel on the case, according to Convery.
“Primarily because the commissioners feel that this is their baby and it’s a local issue and they’d like to see it be resolved locally,” Convery said.
The attorney general’s office will play an advisory role in the case, reviewing pleadings and doing legal research.
During last year’s Oct. 30 meeting Prairie County commissioners attempted to negotiate seasonal public use of Scenic View Road with Karrels. Karrels, who has placed a locked gate on the road that runs through portions of his property and leads to a large tract of BLM land, said during the meeting that he would continue to allow “any responsible member of the community” access.
Published Feb. 17, 2010