A new area landowner around Lake Stockton has recently filed documents with the Cedar County courthouse seeking permission to close the western portion of County Road 1774, 6 miles south of Stockton.
This closure, if allowed, would essentially land lock over 500 acres of public hunting land owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and cut off public access to this area by land.
The county road in question runs adjacent to the landowner’s 180 acres and the 500-plus acres of Lake Stockton public land. This county road should not be closed, as it has been providing access to the public resource since the lake was established over 50 years ago.
In this instance, the area landowner is attempting to gate across a public road in a brazen attempt to turn his 180-acre parcel into roughly 680 acres of private access.
If this is not blocked by the Cedar County Commissioners or the Corps of Engineers, it will set a bad precedent for the future and send a very clear message to others in Cedar and surrounding counties contemplating the same idea — that the county and the Corps will support people illegally blocking access to public lands and claiming public resources as their own.
If this is not stopped, numerous other county roads around the lake will also be at risk of blockade simply because the roads pass by private land before ultimately leading to public areas owned by the Corps.
Many of the access points leading down to the lake shore could run the risk of being closed as well, as a vast majority of the exterior land around corps’ land boundaries is privately owned. This fact alone should be enough to give local residents pause, as many of them enjoy the public lands around the lake.
Allowing a private owner to gate across a public road in an attempt to cut off public access should be stopped. Cedar County is blessed to have a beautiful lake and abundant public lands available for all to enjoy. We do not want to start allowing area landowners to dictate our public land access points, in a selfish attempt to steal from the public.
There will be a public hearing to discuss the road closure at 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 9, at Room 5 in the Cedar County courthouse.
For those unable to attend, please call the Cedar County Commissioner’s office or the Corps of Engineers to voice your opposition of this request. The Presiding Commissioner in Stockton is Marlon Collins, 276-6700.
You can reach the Corp of Engineers in Stockton at 276-3113 or at the Kansas City Operation’s Division at 816-389-3989.
— Wayne Terrell, Stockton