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Right-of-Way Public Access

We investigate the complex questions of access across public lands, whether for roads or man-made waterways. Our research requires tracing continuous use and maintenance of such pathways from original grant to the present. In some cases, the form and intent of the original declaration must be determined. We compile records from federal, state and local agencies, newspapers, and manuscript collections to identify a clear timeline of use and succession for the respective right-of-way or similar grant.

Case Study:

Montana Ditch Right-of-Way

Heritage conducted extensive research concerning an alleged federal grant of right-of-way for a ditch serving agricultural interests. Heritage's knowledge of federal permitting of grants helped focus research around records in the National Archives and the respective county courthouse where a grant application should have been filed. We also uncovered documents revealing a discrepancy in location and name designations such that the alleged grant might have applied to another area with a similar name. Ultimately, Heritage's research found no evidence that a grant or permit had been issued for the ditch in question. Also, documents collected by Heritage raised doubts concerning a clear line of succession to the current owner and continuous use of the ditch. All of this information contributed to preparation of an expert witness report for the client.