--Private property rights focus of Wyoming Farm Bureau Foundation Forum

LARAMIE--“You must advocate for protecting your own private property rights,” Attorney Stacia Berry told attendees at the Wyoming Farm Bureau Foundation Forum Nov. 15, 2012 in Laramie.  The Private Property Rights Forum was sponsored by the Wyoming Farm Bureau Foundation.

Featured speakers were Alan Romero, Olen Snider, Jr, and Stacia Berry.  The panelists discussed private property rights, the importance of the “bundle of sticks” in regards to property rights, easements and eminent domain.  The forum was free and open to the public.

After reviewing eminent domain laws and history, Berry, an attorney at Hageman and Brighton, P.C., asked the audience to think about what real life eminent domain looks like aside from the rules.  “It is important you know how to protect yourself when it comes to property rights and you’ve taken care of the first step today by being here and knowing what your rights are,” She continued.

“The second step is to negotiate with confidence,” Berry explained.  “Talk to your neighbors; it doesn’t have to be a secret.  We would be best to talk together because we are in it together.”

“The final step is to be an advocate for your own private property rights” She said.  “Now that you know what they (your rights) are, it is your opportunity to make sure you don’t get ran over.  We are in this together and we have to bank on that.”

University of Wyoming Law Professor Alan Romero gave an overview of property rights and trespass laws.

“Property rights are like a deck of cards,” Romero said.  “The cards all have different powers and you have a long list of what you can do on your property.”

“There is also an excluding card in which you have the right to keep people off your land,” He continued.

Romero addressed the four basic tenets of property rights:  1) Right to Possess, 2) Right to Use, 3) Right to Transfer and 4) Right to Exclude.  “The right to exclude, in my opinion, is the most important of these rights,” Romero stated.  “It is so fundamental to property ownership.  Property is property because it is exclusive.”

Romero also addressed trespass laws (civil and criminal), which is a violation of the right to exclude. 

Olen Snider, Jr., General Counsel for Summit Title Services, addressed the practical impediments of easements on land titles.  Snider emphasized the importance of being specific in easements and having them in writing so easements can be recorded in real estate records.

Snider noted that conservation easements are when the landowner chooses to sell the right to develop for perpetuity; which is forever.  “There was a case that came before the Wyoming Supreme Court a few years ago where the new landowner asked for the conservation easement to be dissolved,” Snider explained.  “Once a conservation easement is in place it is there for perpetuity.”

“Private property rights are the foundation of America,” Perry Livingston, Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation President, said.  “Protecting private property rights is the primary goal of the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation.”

“With so many issues surrounding property rights, the Wyoming Farm Bureau Foundation sponsored this educational forum to help inform landowners of their legal rights,” Livingston concluded.

            Members of the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation formed the Wyoming Farm Bureau Foundation to fund agricultural education opportunities and support scientific research needed by Wyoming's agricultural producer.  The Wyoming Farm Bureau Foundation also supports legal efforts to protect agricultural producers.  The Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation is the state’s largest general agriculture organization. The primary goals of the organization are to protect private property rights and help members achieve an equitable return on their investment.  On the web, www.wyfb.org