By Terry Anderson and Roger Meiners

The U.S. Supreme Court shocked property owners in 2005 when it allowed the City of New London, Connecticut, to take the property of Suzette Kelo for a private development project. At least Ms. Kelo received some compensation.

No compensation, however, was required in a new blow to private property. This June, in the case of Wonder Ranch, LLC v. U.S.A., the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the right of the U.S. Forest Service to take a public prescriptive easement across private land to access public land.

Prescriptive easements are nothing new. The common law has long granted a permanent right for a person to cross another’s property if he had occurred for many years without an explicit “neighborly accommodation.”

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