Property Rights Foundation of America®

Trails - National

Including Rail Tails, Canalway Trails, & Snowmobile Trails

New information added on January 20, 2009

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"Florida Home Buyers Cancel $41 Million in Sales After Public Access to Preserve is Disclosed" - News Brief, PRFA, August 2007

February 2001:
"Montgomery, Pennsylvania, Plans to Condemn Property for a Trail after it Loses Lawsuit Against Owners"


See Also
See Also

Trails - New York

Rails to Trails - National

Canalway Trails and Canals


Additional Helpful Organizations
Additional Helpful

National Association of Reversionary Property Owners, Richard Welsh, Executive Director
(The preeminent national organization defending owners of land through which a railroad right-of-way passes)


Additional Resources
Additional Resources

Testimony of Nels Ackerson
Before the Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law U.S. House of Representatives
June 20, 2002
The nation's leading attorney for property owners facing rails to trails Takings testified about the
"extravagantly wasteful litigation" caused by the failure of the federal government to set up a procedure
of compensation for landowners where land is expropriated under rails to trails.

See the National Association of Reversionary Property Owners web site: link


Essential Books & Publications
Essential Books
& Publications


In-Depth Information

  • Jason Knox"Property Rights Update from Washington, D.C." - By Jason Knox, Esq., Legislative Staffer, Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.; Twelfth Annual National Conference on Private Property Rights (PRFA, Albany, N.Y., October 18, 2008)
    The environmentalists are using legislation against energy transmission corridors. They're promoting Heritage Areas and wilderness designations as "economic redevelopment" while eliminating good-paying jobs. The urban Taunton Wild and Scenic River is meant to stop a gas pipeline. The 1,082-page resources omnibus bill would tie up 2 million acres as wilderness, including 1.2 million acres in Wyoming to stop use of gas and oil resources. The National Land Conservation System would codify Clinton/Gore National Monument designations. Right now, focus on energy. Make your voice heard on land use issues, project by project. Freedom of Information requests are a powerful tool.
  • "LaGrasse Testifies on Proposed 600-Mile Historic Trail" - By Carol W. LaGrasse, Reprinted from the New York Property Rights Clearinghouse, Vol. 11, No. 4 (PRFA, Fall 2007)
    This article, which should be read in addition to LaGrasse's full official testimony, describes the proposed National Park Service 600-mile, nine-state Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail. Revolutionary history and selections from advocates' testimony are used to show the potential negative impact in private property rights in New York related to historic landscape preservation. A brief summary of LaGrasse's full testimony is included.
  • Linda Rowley"Corruption in Trail Funding" - Linda S. Rowley, Railroad Impact Committee of the Hilltowns (RICH), Tenth Annual National Conference on Private Property Rights (PRFA, Albany, N.Y., October 14, 2006)
    While fighting a planned bike path through her barn in Haydenville, Massachusetts, Linda Rowley discovered that federal transportation enhancement funding that was exclusively for congestion mitigation and air quality improvement (CMAQ) was being misapplied for purely recreational purposes. She also won a ruling in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court that the railroad right-of-way was a road or a way under the Derelict Fee Statute, making it ineligible for federal trail funds because the property belonged to the underlying owners after the railroad was no longer in use.
  • "Property Rights, Trails, & Open Space Preservation" - By Carol W. LaGrasse, Speech to the Comprehensive Planning Advisory Committee, Town of Ballston, June 22, 2005
    Private property rights were fundamental to the founders and protected other rights, but a brief chronology shows that U.S. Supreme Court rulings dealing with zoning and open space have both eroded and protected these rights. Trails threaten private property owners with liability and other problems, but reversionary title is protected.
  • "Grants Have Agendas" - By Carol W. LaGrasse, PRFA November 15, 2004
    Government grants put never-ending streams of money toward preservationist objectives that diminish private property rights. Prime examples are National Heritage Areas, regional planning, trails, and government land acquisition.
  • Peter J. LaGrasse"Brief Comments on Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor (Abbreviated Transcript)" - By Peter J. LaGrasse, Chairman, Stony Creek Board of Assessors (PRFA, December 9, 2003)
    Corridor proponents are concealing the extreme limitation in the protection from liability for owners where trails are located. The Heritage Corridor is a plan for a total change in cultural orientation. Local people will not be able to afford the taxes. If this scheme succeeds, there indigenous population will not be able to continue to live in the area.
  • "Our Inalienable Heritage" - By Carol W. LaGrasse, Welcome Address, Seventh Annual N.Y. Conference on Private Property Rights (PRFA, Oct. 18, 2003)
    Taking a look at the ways our rights are being eroded and setting history back on a path toward justice. Countervailing the soft-sell, long-term approach of moneyed interests - conservation easements, scenic byways, heritage areas, trails - the high-sounding tools of landscape preservation.
  • Joseph Havranek"The Proposed Rondout Creek Canalway Trail-Defending Property Owners" - By Joseph Havranek, Rondout Landowners Alliance, Seventh Annual New York Conference on Private Property Rights (PRFA, October 18, 2003)
    A classic of successful activism. FOIL Requests revealed that the true intent of the local project in Rosendale and Marbletown was a 108-mile trail linking the Hudson and Delaware Rivers. The Rondout Landowners Alliance got the information to the people and went on the offensive.
  • "The Canal Trailway - A Threat to Private Property Owners"
    - By Carol W. LaGrasse, Speech hosted by the Rondout Landowners Alliance, Rosendale, N.Y., September 18, 2003
    In addition to danger of eminent domain and liability concerns, canal trails such as the Delaware and Hudson demonstrate the power of the National Park Service, other federal and state government agencies, and wealthy non-profit organizations to institute greenways and landscape preservation on a national scale. Rural communities are threatened.Photo Gallery
  • "Proposed Rondout Creek Trail Threatens Private Property" - By Carol W. LaGrasse (PRFA, May 24, 2003)
    The Rondout Creek Access Trail in Ulster County is tied to a larger project related to developing the 108 mile abandoned route of the Delaware and Hudson Canal for recreation. The Town of Rosendale and Marbletown spent $17,500 on planning, but kept property owners out of meetings, then gave the landowners a toothless promise to avoid using eminent domain.
  • "Federal Court Orders U.S. To Compensate Missouri Landowners"
    - By Carol W. LaGrasse (PRFA, January 2003)
    Federal court rules that according to Missouri law, the land underlying an abandoned railroad in Missouri reverted to the property owners. The government has to pay the first thirteen underlyling owners $410,000, with more to follow along the 225-mile Katy Trail.
  • "Saratoga County Canalway Trail Shrouded in Secrecy—Trail Planned along Champlain Canal Route through Saratoga and Washington Counties"
    - By Carol W. LaGrasse (PRFA, October 22, 2002)
    The New York State Canal Corporation, National Park Service, and the New York Parks and Conservation are very quietly garnering support for an elaborately planned proposal with federal funding to build an uninterrupted 26-mile trail along the active and abandoned Champlain Canal route from Waterford through Saratoga County, to be followed by another 22 miles through Washington County to Whitehall. The abandoned and active sections of the canal pass through or adjacent to private houses and backyards, businesses, farms, and other private property, but the property owners are not being given information.
  • John McClaughry"One Vermonter's 21-year Court Odyssey"-by John McClaughry (Ethan Allen Institute, July 2001)
    "The Preseault case illustrates how government lawyers will employ every trick in the legal book to get something for nothing at the expense of a private citizen."
  •  "Perkiomen Trail Poses a Threat to Private Property Owners"-by Carol W. LaGrasse, The Mercury, Pottstown, Pennsylvania, June 10, 2001
    After losing a court battle where it claimed to have acquired title to an old railroad right-of way, Montgomery County, which is northwest of Philadelphia, has begun condemning the property for a trail. The course of the trail, which is named after the nearby Perkiomen Creek, follows the old rail bed as well as some of extensive parkland along the creek. This Opinion piece explains that Perkiomen Trail poses a threat to private property owners in two important respects: the construction of the trail route itself and the broader long-term acquisition plans to gobble up the private land along the creek and join the waterfront to the rail bed in a greenway.
  • Perkiomen Trail maps - May 2001
    This series of maps obtained from the Montgomery County Department of Parks, depicts the currently planned route of Perkiomen Trail.
  • Richard Welsh"The Rails-to-Trails Movement" - Richard Welsh, Executive Director, National Association of Reversionary Property Owners, from Proceedings of the Third Annual New York Conference on Private Property Rights (PRFA, 1998)

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