LOLO CREEK — Officials in western Montana have rejected a request by a private landowner to relinquish a public right of way on the property that was once a road and is now part of the Nez Perce National Historic Trail.
Missoula County commissioners last week voted against giving up the right of way on a narrow strip of land owned by Dave Trusty.
Commissioners Jean Curtiss and Bill Carey voted to deny abandoning the right of way. They cited the historic significance of the trail and the wishes of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee.
“It’s easy to see that having that public right of way going through someone’s private property — especially when it’s not a road that’s used on a regular basis or needed to access their property — is an encumbrance,” said Curtiss. “But it’s also important, I think, that we look at the fact that this is a congressionally designated historic trail. It’s on maps, and it’s also probably where Lewis and Clark walked.”
Trusty bought the land along U.S. Highway 12 six miles west of Lolo in 1985. A year later Congress added the Nez Perce Trail to the National Park Service’s National Trails System.
Trusty for nearly two decades has been trying to get the county to abandon the road, spending thousands in the process.
“I’d never heard about this historic trail until this stuff started coming up,” Trusty said.