Video of confrontation over road sparks controversy over private land and public access

Posted at 9:19 PM, Jul 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-26 10:57:03-04

James Sheets posted a video online Monday evening of a run-in he had with a security guard last week on Forest Road 409, better known as Clear Creek Road in Valley County. Since its posting, the video has been shared more than 800 times.

The video shows a security guard from DF Development, the Texas based company owned by two Texas billionaires who purchased more than 100,000 acres of land last year confronting the citizen.

"The gentleman that filmed it is parked on a wide spot on the side of the road," explained Jeff Mcfadden, the Valley County Roads Department Superintendent. "It sounded like DF Development security officer did not know if that was a public road, a private road, or a forest service road. He didn't know what kind of road that was."

According to McFadden, Valley County owns a 66-foot easement that extends 33 feet on each side from the center of the road, and they've owned it since July of 2006. According to McFadden, the security officer should not have been doing what he was doing.

While the road is public the land beyond the easement is private. It was formerly owned by Boise Cascade for decades who allowed the public access to the land, but since DF Development purchased the land, McFadden says people are upset that they are locking up the land and it is no long accessible to the public. 

A statement released by DF Development says:

An employee of a private security firm retained by DF Development came upon a stopped vehicle on a public road bordered on each side by property that we own. The guard believed that the owner of the vehicle intended to unload and then operate the off-road vehicles that were on the trailer. The guard's intention in speaking to the owner of was simply to reinforce that the land on either side of the road was private.

McFadden said this kind of confusion likely happens more than they hear about. While this particular road happens to be public, not all roads are. 

He said it's going to be an educational period of letting the public know where they are allowed and where they are not. 

If you have any questions regarding whether a road is private or public you can always call the Valley County Roads Department, The Forest Service, or Idaho Department of Lands.