Mt. Tipton land purchase ends lengthy legal-access dispute
KINGMAN - The Wilderness Land Trust has purchased another piece of property in Mohave County.
The trust recently bought a 60-acre piece of property in the Mount Tipton Wilderness from Brian Siefker and Valerie Schunn.
The property is located in Marble Canyon about 20 miles north of Kingman.
Siefker and Schunn originally purchased the property in a series of transactions between 1998 and 1999. They planned to use the property to build a ranch house, barn and stable.
However, the state of Arizona declared the area part of the Mt. Tipton Wilderness in the 1990s. The Arizona Desert Wilderness Act of 1990 stated that there shall be no "permanent road ... no temporary road and no use of motor vehicles" within wilderness areas.
The act did say that owners of private property in designated wilderness areas should be given the ability to access their property.
Siefker and Schunn submitted a proposal to the Bureau of Land Management for motorized access through the wilderness lands to reach their property.
The proposal was approved in 2002 and was immediately appealed by Wilderness Watch, a Montana-based wilderness protection group.
In February 2006, the Interior Board of Land Appeals overturned the BLM's decision and sent it back to the BLM for a more factual finding on the historic use of the proposed route. Now that the land has been purchased by the Wilderness Land Trust, a review is no longer necessary.
"I am very pleased that the purchase of this property by the Wilderness Land Trust will end the legal proceedings in this case and allow the property to be added to the Mt. Tipton Wilderness Area, " said David Kirk of The Wilderness Land Trust. "The protection of the property will preserve the naturalness and solitude found in the Marble Canyon, conditions that would have been severely impacted by the development of the property."
The trust will transfer ownership of the land to the BLM.
"The trust is pleased that we could work out a solution with the property owners so the property will always be available as wilderness for future generations to enjoy," said Reid Haughey, president of the trust.