A court recently held that a claim which alleged that the Forest Service had taken property without just compensation was filed too late and dismissed the case. The plaintiff had purchased property in 1995 adjacent to the Plumas National Forest which was originally part of a homestead granted back in 1882. The property included both a cabin and a root cellar. However, before the plaintiff purchased the property, the Forest Service had resurveyed the property in 1993, and that survey concluded that the property line was different than the boundary line shown on the original homestead. At some point after its survey, the Forest Service erected a fence on the boundary line which bisected the cabin and the root cellar was located on the Forest Service’s side of the fence. The plaintiff became aware of the fence in 2000 and disputed the new property line.
The plaintiff then sent a letter to the Forest Service acknowledging that there was a dispute over the boundary. Plaintiff claimed that a subsequent letter sent in 2004 by the Forest Service, in which the agency indicated that it wanted to resolve “the encroachment,” constituted an agreement to resolve the dispute. The Forest Service then stated in 2010 that it had decided not to reach an agreement. The plaintiff claimed that the six year period it had to file a claim against the Forest Service started in 2010 when the agency allegedly broke its agreement to resolve the dispute. However, the court concluded that there was no binding agreement to resolve the dispute and that the six year period began in 2000 when the plaintiff first learned of the boundary problem. Therefore, the court held the claim was filed too late when it was filed in 2011.