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Crossing railroad tracks to access public lands #6352193
10/20/18 10:22 AM
10/20/18 10:22 AM
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 4,406
Lower WIsconsin Riverway
Muskrat Offline OP
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Lower WIsconsin Riverway
Amongst all the other issues we face as trappers, hunters and fishermen, this one is a particular thorn in my side and many others as well. Back when the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee okayed a provision in the 2015-17 budget to safely cross the tracks in its budget review awhile back, most of us thought our governor would accept its recommendations. Didn't happen.

There have been threats of tickets and from what I've heard tickets have been issued. The public meeting in Stoddard I attended two years ago sure didn't make it look like the railroad would allow a simple crossing of the tracks where there was no crossing. Some of us have given up on accessing these areas and some of us continue to do so. I continue to cross where necessary to access public lands and waters and will choose jail time over paying any fines. There will come a day when I am no longer able to trap, and I hope that when the day comes I can look back at my life and say at least I tried.

To those of you who insist this is a safety issue and the law should be followed just because our governor decided so, I ask you to reflect on your driving habits. Where the speed limit is posted at 55 mph, do you drive over that speed limit? If/when you do, are you breaking the law? Are you placing yourself and others in danger by your reckless speeding? Or do you assume you know what you're doing and that law is for others? I would wager my crossing the tracks after looking both ways is much less dangerous than you driving over the speed limit on our highways, and faster than the posted speed limit on the freeways.

Whatever.

So we have a new candidate for governor. Tony Evers. A democrat. Yes, by golly, a democrat. Hang in there, at least read this post to the end.

So I called their number posted on the internet and put the question about crossing the tracks to access public lands and waters to hunt, fish and trap. Twice I called. Each time I gave them my name, phone number, address and email address. I received no phone call back yesterday.

This morning I checked emails and received this, apparently yesterday:

Good afternoon, Michael,

I am a policy advisor to Tony and received your inquiry regarding the railroad track issue. The railroad lobby fought hard for the law you are referencing under the auspices of limiting their hypothetical liability. I don't mean to trivialize the issue, but if we can trust hunters to walk around safely with loaded weapons, I think we can trust them to look both ways when they get to a railroad track. Not surprisingly, there's no evidence of anyone being injured trying to cross a railroad track to access public lands.

As Governor, Tony will work with conservation leaders in the Legislature to address the issue. Returning reasonable access is a common sense approach.

Thank you for writing in,

Matt Wallock
Team Tony

Now I realize this presents a conundrum for some, maybe many of you. I'm just sharing information here. At least it's a breath of fresh air to read something that actually makes sense from a politician's spokesperson.

Who knows? Maybe our present governor will have a change of heart if this gets out there and realizes it might cost him votes.

I trust no politician. There's nothing binding "Team Tony" from doing absolutely nothing on this issue.

I posted this on the Strictly Trapping forum, and will post again here for those of you who aren't up to speed on this issue. It's a Pat Durkin article from 2015 that will sort of sum up where we're at today with this issue:

Thanks to Gov. Scott Walker’s veto pen, hunters and anglers can be ticketed as trespassers when crossing railroad tracks to reach public lands and fishing areas; and 11 nonprofit conservation organizations will have a tougher time building trails, and protecting fish and wildlife habitats.
The vetoes surprised some folks who thought they made their case when the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee backed their efforts during its budget review in May and June. Given the JFC’s GOP majority, they thought Gov. Walker would accept its recommendations. Besides, the guv often says he wants to increase hunting and fishing opportunities, and forge partnerships between the private and public sectors.
Pfft. Even though the railroad-trespass exemption would cost nothing, and the combined $1 million in grants to nonprofit groups amounted to mere budget dust in the state’s $72.7 billion spending plan for 2015-17, Gov. Walker vetoed the items.
Let’s look at the railroad-trespass veto first. Safe to say, hunters and anglers have been crossing railways to hunt and fish since train tracks were first laid about 150 years ago. But only recently has a railroad company, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, started patrolling its 214 miles of tracks bordering the Mississippi River to chase off anglers who dare cross, no matter that many folks are walking from paved parking lots the state built for fishing/hunting access.
Have any hunters or anglers been hit by a train? No. Have conductors had to blast their train’s horns at some hunters and anglers? Apparently so. But let’s concede most hunters and anglers know to look both ways for a train, which are far more predictable and less hazardous than rivers, lakes, firearms, treestands and frozen ponds.
Marc Schultz, chairman of the La Crosse County Conservation Alliance, and chair of the county’s delegation to the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, said it’s hard to reach vast stretches of the Mississippi River bottoms without crossing railways. Further, designated crossings are often so far apart that people will effectively be cut off from most public hunting and fishing areas if the BNSF enforces Walker’s veto.
“This state revolves around natural resources,” Schultz said. “These lands and water are the major components of our recreation. We’ve crossed railroad tracks all our lives to reach those resources. They’re culturally ingrained in us.”
That’s why Schultz supported the JFC when it inserted language in the budget to let people walk “directly across the tracks of any railroad.” The JFC added, “This activity would not be considered trespassing and could not be prevented by the railroad.”
Gov. Walker, however, rejected the change, writing: “I am vetoing this section because I am concerned that allowing people to walk across railroad tracks outside of a designated crossing impairs public safety.”
Hmm. If we’re fretting about safety, why raise the speed limit to 70 mph? Why trust people to safely travel 173 feet per second while driving a relatively soundproof vehicle, but assume they’ll be irresponsible daredevils when crossing an 8.5-foot-wide train track on foot?
Schultz is more diplomatic. “I think the governor made his decision on bad information,” he said. “We’re not giving up.”
Meanwhile, Gov. Walker also axed $1.02 million in annual grants that 11 nonprofit organizations have regularly converted into volunteer labor, public access and other contributions that multiplied the state’s investment by four- to tenfold.
The governor explained his veto this way: “I object to earmarking these funds for specific conservation organizations without requiring accountability in the use of these funds.”
Accountability? You’d think the guv would be careful about uttering that word after his Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. awarded $500,000 in unsecured loans to a struggling construction company, and made at least 27 awards totaling $124.4 million to companies without doing formal staff reviews.
In contrast, the groups receiving the far smaller conservation grants have long track records of accomplishments. Most also must make matching contributions, and document their efforts with the Department of Natural Resources quarterly or annually, depending on the grant’s requirements.
For instance, the River Alliance of Wisconsin has been receiving grants of roughly $70,000 annually since 1999, and helps more than 130 river and watershed citizen-run organizations. It files quarterly reports and meets quarterly with DNR staff to review its work. Walker deleted its JFC-approved annual grant of $62,300.
The Gathering Waters Conservancy has received annual grants since 1996 to help citizens preserve, protect and enhance their land and water resources, which often means opening more lands to hunting and fishing. Walker deleted its JCF-approved grant for $124,500.
The Natural Resources Foundation has received annual grants since 2000 to boost private-sector investments and educational efforts on state-managed natural resources, and files an annual report with the DNR. The NRF raises money from donors and members, conducts wide-ranging field trips, and provides grants of its own to the DNR and other organizations. Walker deleted its JFC-approved grant of $75,700.
The Ice Age Trail Alliance has received annual state grants since about 1995 to create, support and protect the state’s 1,000-mile portion of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, which passes through 30 counties. The trail is managed in a partnership with the National Park Service, and trail work is done by volunteers organized and supervised by the Alliance. Walker deleted its JFC-approved grant of $66,800.
The vetoes shocked Ruth Oppedahl, executive director of the NRF. She said her organization has donated more than $3 million to the DNR to manage state natural areas, and felt gratified that the JFC understood the value of its efforts.
“We had a very positive response from the Joint Finance Committee,” Oppedahl said. “They got the message that for every dollar we receive from the state, we reinvest anywhere from $4 to $10 each year. We’re still here, but this has been a surprising couple of days.”
Denny Caneff, executive director of the River Alliance, said he wasn’t surprised. “It’s petty,” he said. “The DNR didn’t request these cuts, but we kind of saw it coming. With the Walker administration, you’re always wondering. If you say anything about them, you’re setting yourself up to be cut. So even though Joint Finance restored our funding, we knew it might not get past the governor, and it didn’t.”
Patrick Durkin is a freelance writer who covers outdoors for Press-Gazette Media.


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Re: Crossing railroad tracks to access public lands [Re: Muskrat] #6352282
10/20/18 12:48 PM
10/20/18 12:48 PM
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South metro, MN
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Calvin Offline
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I wish you had more support over there in WI. My buddy moved there from MN and about quit trapping due to WI laws.


The insane are running the asylum.
Re: Crossing railroad tracks to access public lands [Re: Muskrat] #6352312
10/20/18 01:39 PM
10/20/18 01:39 PM
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wallfur Offline
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unfortunately, railroad is private property and can be posted just like any other private land.

Re: Crossing railroad tracks to access public lands [Re: wallfur] #6352314
10/20/18 01:45 PM
10/20/18 01:45 PM
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 4,406
Lower WIsconsin Riverway
Muskrat Offline OP
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Originally Posted By: wallfur
unfortunately, railroad is private property and can be posted just like any other private land.


Also unfortunately, with respect to crossing railroad tracks, our governor had a chance to reverse this here in Wisconsin.



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Re: Crossing railroad tracks to access public lands [Re: wallfur] #6352317
10/20/18 01:52 PM
10/20/18 01:52 PM
Joined: Nov 2014
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east central WI
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Dirty D Offline
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Originally Posted By: wallfur
unfortunately, railroad is private property and can be posted just like any other private land.



agree with this except for one small detail.
I don't find it unfortunate that private property can be posted.
I own land and I don't want Joe Public mucking around on it.

For me this is an issue of Private Property Rights.
I know alot of you are upset about this cause your access to public lands are limited.
You wouldn't care if your ox wasn't getting gored.
Private Property rights trump your access to public land.

As far as Tony Evers, Elimination of private property rights sound like communism.




Last edited by Dirty D; 10/20/18 01:52 PM.
Re: Crossing railroad tracks to access public lands [Re: Muskrat] #6352326
10/20/18 02:11 PM
10/20/18 02:11 PM
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 4,406
Lower WIsconsin Riverway
Muskrat Offline OP
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We're talking about crossing railroad tracks, DD.

Apparently you have no need to access public lands and waters that are now off limits due to inaccessibility.

Nice job with the analogy on a politician that has the guts to take this issue on.





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Re: Crossing railroad tracks to access public lands [Re: Muskrat] #6352362
10/20/18 03:43 PM
10/20/18 03:43 PM
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So, let me get this straight !!!!!

If the State of Wisconsin has , for example; 500 acres of State owned land for hunting, trapping and fishing, and ALL four sides are bordered by train tracks; the Railroad can PREVENT ACCESS TO THAT STATE OWNED LAND ???????

Could they prevent access to that State owned land , if there was a creek that runs through the State owned land ; and the railroad had a bridge crossing that creek ? All anyone would have to do, is walk down the middle of the creek under that bridge, and they would be on the State land .

Re: Crossing railroad tracks to access public lands [Re: Muskrat] #6352365
10/20/18 03:49 PM
10/20/18 03:49 PM
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james bay frontierOnt.
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The railroad will put in a crossing for people to safely cross the track.This will include flanger markers and whistle boards for the train.
All you have to do is request a crossing and pay for it.

Re: Crossing railroad tracks to access public lands [Re: Canvasback2] #6352370
10/20/18 03:55 PM
10/20/18 03:55 PM
Joined: Dec 2006
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Lower WIsconsin Riverway
Muskrat Offline OP
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Originally Posted By: Canvasback2
So, let me get this straight !!!!!

If the State of Wisconsin has , for example; 500 acres of State owned land for hunting, trapping and fishing, and ALL four sides are bordered by train tracks; the Railroad can PREVENT ACCESS TO THAT STATE OWNED LAND ???????

Could they prevent access to that State owned land , if there was a creek that runs through the State owned land ; and the railroad had a bridge crossing that creek ? All anyone would have to do, is walk down the middle of the creek under that bridge, and they would be on the State land .


yes

providing the creek can be accessed legally, then that state land could be accessed legally by walking under the tracks at the bridge crossing

Take a look at this map, specifically from La Crosse northward along the Mississippi River valley. The railroad tracks present a wall to accessibility to the Upper Mississippi Wildlife Refuge where there are no crossings or the crossings are few and far between. South of La Crosse is the same.

There are places along the highway where parking places were built for folks to park their car, walk across the tracks, and hunt, fish or trap on the other side.



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Re: Crossing railroad tracks to access public lands [Re: Boco] #6352371
10/20/18 03:56 PM
10/20/18 03:56 PM
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Lower WIsconsin Riverway
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Originally Posted By: Boco
The railroad will put in a crossing for people to safely cross the track.This will include flanger markers and whistle boards for the train.
All you have to do is request a crossing and pay for it.


send the bill to the governor


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Re: Crossing railroad tracks to access public lands [Re: Muskrat] #6352373
10/20/18 04:02 PM
10/20/18 04:02 PM
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james bay frontierOnt.
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Boco Offline
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The railroad don't care who pays for it as long as its paid for.

Re: Crossing railroad tracks to access public lands [Re: Boco] #6352374
10/20/18 04:04 PM
10/20/18 04:04 PM
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Lower WIsconsin Riverway
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Originally Posted By: Boco
The railroad don't care who pays for it as long as its paid for.


for sure


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Re: Crossing railroad tracks to access public lands [Re: Muskrat] #6352375
10/20/18 04:07 PM
10/20/18 04:07 PM
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james bay frontierOnt.
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If the government accepts the liability for the crossing,no problem then for the railroad or the citizens.
I'm surprised the right of way is not fenced.

Last edited by Boco; 10/20/18 04:10 PM.
Re: Crossing railroad tracks to access public lands [Re: Muskrat] #6352376
10/20/18 04:07 PM
10/20/18 04:07 PM
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We have the same problem here with the Railroad blocking access to private property. Farmers and other property owners that own land on both sides of the tracks , and have old rail crossings put in decades ago. Suddenly, the Railroad decided to park their rail cars through the whole Town during Deer Season. Some Maple Syrup producers have been cut off from accessing their Maple Trees. All those years, they had access to their land, now they can't get to their property. Pay taxes on and they can't get to, and can't sell it because nobody can access it.

Re: Crossing railroad tracks to access public lands [Re: Boco] #6352381
10/20/18 04:11 PM
10/20/18 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted By: Boco
If the government accepts the liability for the crossing,no problem then for the railroad or the citizens.
I'm surprised the right of way is not fenced.


Wouldn't it be much simpler to just remove any liability to the Railroad by anyone crossing the Railroad Tracks? Take the ability to sue the Railroad out of the equation. If someone gets hurt crossing the tracks , it's their fault , not the Railroad.

Re: Crossing railroad tracks to access public lands [Re: Muskrat] #6352383
10/20/18 04:15 PM
10/20/18 04:15 PM
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" but if we can trust hunters to walk around safely with loaded weapons, I think we can trust them to look both ways when they get to a railroad track. Not surprisingly, there's no evidence of anyone being injured trying to cross a railroad track to access public lands."

The problem with that quote is that Tony Evers does not trust ANY civilian to walk around safely with loaded weapons. F rated on 2nd Amendment.

Re: Crossing railroad tracks to access public lands [Re: Muskrat] #6352384
10/20/18 04:18 PM
10/20/18 04:18 PM
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Lower WIsconsin Riverway
Muskrat Offline OP
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So what's the solution Corky? Scott Walker isn't going to budge. Too much money coming his way.


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Re: Crossing railroad tracks to access public lands [Re: Muskrat] #6352385
10/20/18 04:19 PM
10/20/18 04:19 PM
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james bay frontierOnt.
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I don't think you can take away anyones right to sue.This is why due diligence is required these days to be able to defend yourself.

Re: Crossing railroad tracks to access public lands [Re: Muskrat] #6352386
10/20/18 04:25 PM
10/20/18 04:25 PM
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I'm sorry. I don't have a solution. I am in your corner and have written/contacted the Governor's office and several legislators that I know personally on this issue even though I am not personally affected. It fell on deaf ears. Best thing to do is keep plugging away until someone takes an initiative. I know that on the overall issues affecting sportsmen Walker is the far more desirable candidate even if he is dead wrong on this one.

Re: Crossing railroad tracks to access public lands [Re: Boco] #6352387
10/20/18 04:25 PM
10/20/18 04:25 PM
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Lower WIsconsin Riverway
Muskrat Offline OP
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Originally Posted By: Boco
I don't think you can take away anyones right to sue.This is why due diligence is required these days to be able to defend yourself.


In 1963, Wisconsin’s Recreational Use Statute, Sec. 895.52, eliminated the liability of landowners when they open their property to public recreation.

The same could be done with railroad property with respect to directly crossing the tracks to access public lands and waters.

https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/895/II/52


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