16 replies [Last post]
cscott711's picture
Offline
Location: Michigan
Joined: 11/22/2010
Posts: 101
Wyoming -- The BLM Checkerboard

Can anyone explain to me what on earth the checkerboard pattern of 1 sq. mi chunks of BLM and private land is about and the legality of crossing from corner to corner (BLM square to BLM square)?  There are so many areas like this that I've found and I'm wondering what others have done when hunting in these areas.  It's great that there is so much BLM, but it seems like it would be a nightmare to try to hunt because it would be very hard to ensure you never step foot on the private land.  

Any suggestions on how to overcome this obstacle?

Ca_Vermonster's picture
Offline
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!Moderator
Location: San Diego, CA
Joined: 07/27/2007
Posts: 5813
We have a similar thing out

We have a similar thing out here in California, but it's not with BLM land, it's with Indian reservation land.  There are a few tribes that were given land, and it's a whole bunch of 1 mile squares, like you explained.  I would check with you local BLM office, but I would think that with the help of a GPS, and if you go directly from one square to the other at the exact corner, I don't think anyone will give you any trouble.  Worse comes to worse, if you can't figure it out, go ask the private landowners, if you can find them.  Tell them that you will be hunting the public land, and that you might need to cross a very small portion of their land to get to it.  You might get shot down alot, but it only takes one "yes" to be in business.

hawkeye270's picture
Offline
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Location: Fort Collins, CO
Joined: 06/15/2008
Posts: 1862
Ah I bet it has got you

Ah I bet it has got you really wondering huh? That is one of the most annoying land ownership problems to mess with. You can blame the rail roads for that mess. And when I say railroads I mean go way back in history and think the Union Pacific Rail road and the Central Pacific Rail road. This was during the era that our government was basically giving away land so that we could get people to settle the frontier west of the Mississippi. The railroads were given land to build the railroads on (because it would expedite the process of settling the west) and they were also given a big buffer on either side of the tracks. The thing is (and the government was smart to do it) the created a checkerboard pattern in this buffer so that the railroads would not own such a giant swath of land into the future. The checkerboard allows anyone to travel the length of the railroad without ever tresspassing (if you stick to hopping the corners). Good luck with that though. You can get it done for hunting though. Get a good map. A GPS set up for UTM's can be helpful too.

cscott711's picture
Offline
Location: Michigan
Joined: 11/22/2010
Posts: 101
Really?  Follow the

Really?  Follow the railroads?  Interesting.  Not that I don't trust you, but is there any way of verifying that information?  Just curious.  What about the many, many other corner points where the checkerboards meet?  I know the ranches out there have cattle fences that run many of the property lines which will definitely help too, but just curious if there was a definitive way to conquer this obstacle in all instances.

CVC
CVC's picture
Offline
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Location: Kansas
Joined: 03/04/2006
Posts: 3579
Yeah, not sure about the

Yeah, not sure about the railroad thing since I haven't seen too many railroads in WY where I hunt.  Some of the BLM is landlocked with no way to get to it.  Other parcels have access through private property.  I am not certain how to tell for sure, but some roads go through the private property and are open to the public.

Offline
Joined: 04/24/2010
Posts: 19
BLM checkerboard in WY

I was perplexed by that situation when hunting Antelope back in the early 80's. During a snowstorm one night, I went to a motel in a wierd little town and it turns out the guy behind the desk was also the Sheriff. So I asked him how in the hell do you figure out this checkerboard with regards to tresspassing and so on. And why do some of the squares have signs indicating that they are controlled or owned by some Sheep or Cattle Company, when they are clearly BLM? He took a slurp out of his Wild Turkey and said "Nobody cares. You go out and have fun and shoot as many antelope as you have a license for. Anybody complains you tell'em I said it's OK".

Offline
Joined: 04/24/2010
Posts: 19
The Railroad in Western History

Old Hawkeye 270 is right about the Railroads and the claims of every other square mile in a checkerboard pattern. This was intended to keep Government control in a haphazard way over all that giveaway land. I believe they also have mineral rights to those same squares; a pretty significant asset in these times. Beware of secret deals between the the BLM and Energy companies whereby they lease these lands for energy development, with a stipulation to keep them open for recreational uses for (let's say) 20 years. Twenty years is up in some parts, and they now seal them off from hunters, campers, hikers, and everyone else! I'm referring to units 11 and 211 in Colo. for example.  

Offline
Joined: 01/05/2007
Posts: 169
Get a good map and gps and

Get a good map and gps and corner hop. Remember you really should to get a new map every year, as things do change. You can also get a private land map that will tell you who owns what. If you do get confronted by a land owner just show them the BLM map and your GPS. Well of coarse make sure you are on public land. I have been confronted more than once. You would be surprised on how many land owners don't know there own property lines. Good Luck

cscott711's picture
Offline
Location: Michigan
Joined: 11/22/2010
Posts: 101
Man, that really sucks.  I

Man, that really sucks.  I guess the last thing I want to be worrying about when I get out there is constantly checking for boundary lines.  It's a shame it is set up like that as it really makes me lean to going to an area that doesn't have this checkerboard pattern just to avoid the possibility of trespassing and creating a big headache for myself.  Unfortunately, some of the better areas in Wyoming are set up like this for public land.  Bummer.

Topgun 30-06's picture
Offline
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Location: Allegan, MI
Joined: 12/11/2010
Posts: 693
Checkerboard Land

I don't want to get into a pizzing match, but what everyone is saying about just jumping across from corner to corner on those lands is incorrect and will get you in big trouble if you get caught.  I've hunted Wyoming since 1994 and I'll guarantee that if you get caught doing what some are saying that you will be paying a $200 trespass fee at a minimum!!!   This came right from a Game Warden with the Wyoming F&G!  In order to access public land like that you must have permission from the private landowner that owns the bordering property, like it or not!  The only real way to not have a problem accessing public land is if a public road goes through the land at some point and that is where a good map and GPS are necessary.  Those checkerboard lands that are mainly in the southwest part of the state are basically off limits unless you can find who owns the adjoining private land and you gain access by paying them or finding one who won't charge you a fee, both of which are very difficult if not impossible.  This is covered right in black and white on page 2 in a pamphlet regarding public land access in Wyoming that is published by the F&G, BLM, and USFS.

ecubackpacker's picture
Offline
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Location: NC
Joined: 09/11/2009
Posts: 1638
Welcome to BGH, Topgun 30-06!

Welcome to BGH, Topgun 30-06! Thumbs up

Thanks for your knowledge on this thread. I was thinking that would be the case but I didn't have any first hand experience to second my theory.

BTW, good looking bull your holding there! Thanks for posting.

Related Forum Threads You Might Like