A family in Colorado is under attack. After purchasing their home and land, they have found that the county is threatening to take their land under eminent domain.

Andy and Ceil Barrie found a small century-old cabin with 13,000 and 14,000 panorama foot peaks to be an ideal location. The couple fell in love with the 3-bedroom cabin sitting in a ten-acre parcel within the midst of the White River National Forest.


The Barries’ cabin

The couple’s cabin is reached by following an old 1.2 mile mining road. The county government is now feigning alarm over the Barries driving their ATV the 1.2 miles to their cabin. The county government first attempted to buy the land, but the Barries were not interested in selling their new home. Now the county government is calling for eminent domain in order to seize the land.

The move obviously shocked the Barries, who have always allowed hikers to travel on their 10-acre parcel of land, and had no intention to “develop.”

“I feel like I can’t trust my government.” Andy Barrie

Open space “is all it’s ever been,” said Andy Barrie. “I feel like I can’t trust my government.”

The Summit County Attorney Jeff Huntley said the county had to act, since the Barries insisted on using their ATV for transportation back and forth to their home. “People in this community are very intent on preserving the back country,” he said.

The Barries originally hiked to the cabin on the old miner’s road and found the home on the 10-acre land to be perfect. Purchasing the century-old cabin and land for $550,000, it came with the ATV, allowing them transportation during the winter.

The U.S. Forest Service informed the Barries they could not use the ATV on the road to access their 10 acres of land. The Barries’ land and cabin floats like an island within the 2.1 million acres of the White River National Forest.

Countering they had a legal right to travel the old road, the Barries challenged the U.S. Forest Service. Summit County reached out and attempted to buy their land, but was turned down.

Fake environmental issue

County commissioners then voted to condemn the property, citing the “public motorized access” to the property could damage the alpine tundra and streams. Additionally the county commissioners said the ATV being driven on the miner’s road could damage the habitat for the endangered lynx.

Making matters worse, the county discovered the prior owner had illegally expanded the upper mining cabin by building its second story and deck. The Barries are pursuing legal action  against the prior owner, while fighting off the county.

Eminent Domain and the Courts

Eminent domain by definition is, to “take private property for public use by a state or national government.” With the increase in the Federal Government providing “stimulus” money to the states, eminent domain has risen across the nation.

”The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution says ‘nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.’  The issue is, what exactly qualifies as  “just compensation” ?

The first case of eminent domain occurred in 1876 and was recognized by the Supreme Court, in Kohl v. United States. The Court affirmed the power existed in the National Government as it was with the State.

Fast forward to today and you have the government attempting to use eminent domain to seize secured mortgage loans.

The Barries continue to fight in order to keep their land. They are at the point that they may demolish the cabin and sleep in tents, if only to save their land.

“We just want the land,” Ceil Barrie said forlornly.




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