Custer RV park owner facing legal challenge from U.S. Forest Ser - KOTA Territory News

Custer RV park owner facing legal challenge from U.S. Forest Service

A Custer recreational vehicle campground owner and his wife are under federal indictment because, according to the U.S. Forest Service, they are using federal land for private tours.  This charge has other campground owners' attention. 

Max Hammer owns the Beaver Lake Campground in Custer. Guests at his campground sometimes bring their own ATVs to use in the Black Hills National Forest.  "They ask us about access to the forest,” Hammer said. “We point them across the highway and say, 'there’s the nation forest.’”

Hammer said he tells them to check with the forest supervisors before entering the federal land.  "Check on any permitting or license fees, maps ... what the rules of the forest are before they go."

But a federal indictment against Jerry and Susan Nored, owners of the Broken Arrow RV Park in Custer has him concerned.  "The reason this is coming to light, it came to my knowledge, is because the Forest Service has taken legal steps. So this makes it a public issue," Hammer said.

The Noreds are accused of running guided horseback rides over unauthorized trials in the forest.

"You've got lots and lots of other businesses that rent ATVs or snowmobiles or horses and use both public and private land,” Hammer said. “I'm wondering what the intricacies here are with broken arrow and how it could spill over into other businesses that run similarly."

According to the indictment, Jerry and Susan Nored are charged with destruction of government property and causing damage in excess of $1,000. But what the indictment doesn't include is exactly what the damage is and where and how it was done.  Officials at the Forest Service said they can't comment on pending litigation. The U.S. Attorney's Office said they don't have any other details about the case other than what's on the indictment.

"How is it that Broken Arrow is responsible for something that maybe their guest did out in the woods?” Hammer asked. “Did Broken Arrow build something or do something out there on public land, or was it something their guest did? If it is, then the guests would be responsible, not the campground."

He said he spoke with Nored about the indictment.  "He's quite upset trying to get this sorted out so he knows where he stands with the forest service, what the rules are going to be."

So what happens if the courts rule in favor of the forest service?  "That's something I’d have to take to committee,” Hammer said. “But I know the national will be in here with big feet and big money to stop it right here. That's what the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds is for.”

Nored has been advised by his lawyers not speak to the media while the case is in litigation. So for now, he's playing the waiting game.

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