Land Steal

By: Donald Robinson
By: Donald Robinson

A Highland County man has been in a fight with the federal government for 22 years, but he is on a quest to regain his family land he says was illegally taken from them.

"This land has been in the family since 1755," said Bill Stuart of Head Waters.

In the 1930's the U.S. Forest Service bought land, to add to the George Washington National Forest.

Stuart says when forest service officials tried to buy land from his family, they refused. But, he says they found a way around it, by using a piece of land a neighbor was selling.

"The forest service did a title search on our track of land," said Stuart, "and they said the neighbor owned more then what he was suppose to have title to."

Years later, Stuart filed two lawsuits but they were dismissed because the statute of limitations had run out, so Stuart took his complaint to his congressman.

"Congressman Bob Goodlatte asked the General Accounting Office to do a full and complete independent review," said Stuart. "The review will go back to him and tell him how the title was suppose to be done and if the government did a fraudulently title search."

And if that is the case, Stuart says the Forest Service should pay.

"I want the land back," said Stuart. "It looks as if there has been damage done on the land and the government should compensate for that to."

Stuart said he was told if the Forest Service is found to have taken the land illegally, it could open the door for lawsuits involving more than two million acres of land from here to Florida.


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