A federal judge says a family living inside
Montana's Glacier National Park can no longer use a snowmobile to
access their property.
Former Denver residents
Jack and Stephanie McFarland sued Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt
in Missoula's U.S. District Court on Feb. 2. The McFarlands said
park officials had acted improperly when they refused to issue the
family a special permit so they could snowmobile in to their
property. The lawsuit also accused the National Park Service of an
"unconstitutional takings' of property.
McFarlands maintain they have special privileges as "inholders,"
and that the government can't restrict reasonable access to their
2.75-acre tract along the North Fork of the Flathead River near
The McFarlands and their three young
children moved to a cabin on the property last May. At the time,
park officials say they warned the couple that the access road
would be closed to vehicles once winter set in. Snowmobiles have
been banned in Glacier Park since 1975.
McFarland, 40, a financial consultant and World Wide Web page
designer, commutes frequently to New York City. Once the road
became snowbound, the family began skiing and hauling sleds to and
from their property. Park officials said the couple could keep a
snowmobile at their cabin, but only for medical
Then the family went to court.
Federal Judge Donald Molloy first granted the family's request for
a temporary restraining order against the park. That allowed the
McFarlands to use a snow machine for all types of transport. But on
Feb. 8, Molloy refused to issue an injunction that would allow
non-emergency snowmobile use to continue.
McFarlands argue they've had family ties to the inholding for
decades. They say the government now restricting their access
created the problem by inviting homesteaders to settle the area
before it became a national park. They vow to keep their lawsuit
"The federal government encouraged these
people to come," Stephen Berg, the family's attorney, told Judge
Molloy. "You can't invite them in and gradually exclude them from
getting to their property year-round."
wasn't simply that the park suddenly woke up and said there's not
going to be any snowmobiles here," Molloy responded. "(Jack
McFarland) created the situation that he's now arguing creates a
risk to him and his family."