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Eye On Boise

Tribes, federal agency claim same land in eastern Idaho

Here’s a news item from the Associated Press: POCATELLO, Idaho (AP) — The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and U.S. Bureau of Land Management are both claiming ownership of about 100 acres near the eastern Idaho city of Pocatello.

The Idaho State Journal reports ( that both entities say Union Pacific Railroad relinquished a right of way to them.

The tribes on Tuesday in a statement cited an 1888 agreement with the railroad and Congress allowing steam engines to draw water from the area. The Fort Hall Reservation once included Pocatello.

The tribes say the 100 acres in the area called City Creek reverted to them when steam engines became obsolete and that in 1989 they received a notice of land relinquishment from the railroad.

The tribes recently installed signs at City Creek that say "Property of Shoshone-Bannock Tribes."

"The signage will not limit any access to the recreational users," said Blaine Edmo, chairman of the Fort Hall Business Council, in a statement. "We are looking forward to cooperating with users of the City Creek Trailhead area to provide for continued safe, responsible, environmentally sensitive use of the area."

The newspaper reports that two of the signs have been vandalized.

The BLM in a statement Wednesday said it controls the land.

"The BLM received a relinquishment of certain lands, formerly a railroad right of way, in the City Creek area from the Union Pacific Railroad in 2014," the agency said in a statement. "The area remains open to the public while further reviews occur."

Railroad spokesman Jeff DeGraff told The Associated Press on Thursday that the company was looking into the matter and didn't have an immediate comment.

Randy'L Teton, spokewoman for the tribes, said the tribes decided to assert their ownership claim due to safety concerns.

"Earlier this year we had a lady getting run over by a bike, and there have been incidents where families don't feel safe taking their kids up there because bikers are zooming past so quickly," she said. "We're listening to the people and letting them know that we are here and that the tribe is offering their services to improve safety."

Officials with the city of Pocatello also issued a statement: "If it is determined that the land is owned by the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, we look forward to working with the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes to maintain one of the area's gems and ensuring its continued enjoyment by East Idahoans for years to come."

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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