A civil trespassing lawsuit between a collection of local ranchers and the Western Watersheds Projects filed nearly two years ago officially has a trial date. Judge Norman E. Young of the Ninth District Court in Lander has set aside five days starting on April 11 for the trial. The ranchers, from Fremont and Lincoln Counties, are accusing WWP Director for Wyoming Jonathan Ratner and associated individuals of intentionally and without landowner permission trespassing and entering private property. According to the complaint, water monitoring sites used by WWP in a plan filed with DEQ were either illegally located on private lands inaccessible without going through private property. Read background on the lawsuit here
In January 2016, Young heard motions for summary judgements on both sides.
The ranchers and their attorneys asked Young to refuse to allow Ratner's
team from using certain types of defense tactics. This month, young denied
He allowed, in part, a motion by Ratner, however. Young is allowing a
summary judgement in favor of the defendants for all claims of trespass
allegedly occurring on or before June 12, 2010. The defense had asked for
the judgement to apply to all but a single date; this was denied. The
defense had also for a finding of "abuse of process." That was denied as
The outcome of the case is expected to have an effect on monitoring efforts
that also involve state land and state trust property.
*file photo h/t Cinthia Hayford *