Longleaf Trace supporters say ruling on land rights won't affect trail

The Longleaf Trace opened in 2000.
The Longleaf Trace opened in 2000.

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Some supporters of the Longleaf Trace Rails to Trails say a recent Supreme Court ruling involving government easements and long-term land rights won't affect the 40-mile biking and walking trail from Hattiesburg to Prentiss.

The court ruled in a Wyoming land dispute that government easements used to construct railroads on public and private property in the West expire when railroads go out if business and the land must revert to its owners.

But James Moore, a local supporter of the trail and president of the National Bicycle Dealers Association said two important factors should protect trails like the Longleaf Trace from any similar legal action.

"If the property was "railbanked," which is a federal law passed back in the 80s, to help facilitate keeping this in the public right-of-way, then it's not affected and I do believe that we used "railbanking" in some phases of our project," Moore said. "But, the more critical one is that if we purchased this land, paid money for it, then we're not subject to any harm from this new Supreme Court ruling. And we have purchased, or MDOT has purchased on our behalf, this property," he said.

Moore also said most of the trails affected are west of the Mississippi River.

Copyright 2014 WDAM. All rights reserved.