For the week of July 8 thru July 14, 1998  

Mammoth Gulch hearing brings big road issues

Express Staff Writer

Locals wanting access via a public road to their landlocked mining claim pleaded their case before Blaine County Commissioners last week.

Bill and Rose Mallory own land up Mammoth Gulch, southeast of Hailey off Broadford Road.

Trouble is, they said, sometimes they can’t get to it freely.

Nicholas Vanoff Presents Inc. of Hollywood, Calif., owns 600 acres of land at the mouth of the gulch.

The Vanoff land surrounds access to the Mallorys’ mining claim and other land claims to the south.

Those managing his land allegedly padlocked a gate blocking the access road to Mammoth Gulch and later gave the combination to the Mallorys and other area property owners, Rose Mallory told county commissioners several months ago.

"We feel it’s just not justified that someone who’s primary residence is in Southern California can control our rights and access to our property when Bill [Mallory] has been a lifelong resident," Rose Mallory said.

She said that in recent years people have always used the undeveloped land for recreation and hunting.

She said other people who own mining claims beyond Bill’s and her Queen Bess mine are also affected.

Also, Bureau of Land Management terrain lies beyond all the Mammoth Gulch mining claims.

But the hearing last week wasn’t an effort to end neighborhood bickering.

It wasn’t about an esoteric right of public access to the public BLM lands beyond the Mallory’s claim, either.

According to County Commissioner Len Harlig, all that matters is historical use of the road before 1893 and if the county ever maintained it for five years in a row.

"The ultimate decision will have to be made on facts," Harlig said.

The Mallorys said their mining claim dates to before 1885, and it has seen several productive years.

Their mine and others in Mammoth Gulch have been mostly idle in recent years, Rose Mallory added.

The couple's plea was backed up by a handful of friends and neighbors.

Bureau of Land Management maps show the Mammoth Gulch access road, said Milton Fife of the Committee for Public Access.

Vanoff’s lawyer, Barry Luboviski, said though he didn’t doubt the validity of the mine claim, he was not sure the road about which the Mallorys spoke was the right one to be fighting for.

"There are many other accesses that are far superior roads," Luboviski said.

The commissioners took the matter under advisement. They will issue a decision in the following months.


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