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Oprah and a physicist battle over trail access in Colorado

By: Associated Press
May 15, 2014 Updated: May 15, 2014 at 11:29 am
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photo - A hiking-trail dispute between an 86-year-old nuclear physicist and Oprah Winfrey, one of the world's wealthiest and most famous women, has sparked a lawsuit. (AP file)
A hiking-trail dispute between an 86-year-old nuclear physicist and Oprah Winfrey, one of the world's wealthiest and most famous women, has sparked a lawsuit. (AP file) 

DENVER — A man who lives near Oprah Winfrey's new property above Telluride, Colorado, is suing her for allegedly blocking access to hiking trails open to neighbors for decades.

Retired physicist Charles D. Goodman claims Winfrey's Yellow Brick Road company, the property's former owners and the town of Mountain Village made a secret deal to close access to the trails that cut across the land purchased for $10.9 million in March.

The Denver Post reported Thursday that the former owners, Hoyt and Carol Barnett, asked for a correction to property records shortly before selling the land.

Goodman claims that erased easements allowing residents of nearby homes to use the trails.

Mountain Village denies the accusation. Town community development director Chirs Hawkins said the correction only cleared up ambiguities and that the town and Winfrey's team want to continue to allow trail access.

In a written statement, Yellow Brick Road spokeswoman Wendy Luckenbill said the company will continue to work with the neighbors ensure "reasonable" access for neighbors over portions of the land.

The trails were established in 1989 after negotiations between Goodman and the U.S. Forest Service, which owned the land at the time.

Winfrey plans to build a mansion and guest home on the property starting this summer. Plans for the homes haven't been submitted yet but the project will require building a bridge over a ski run and cutting down an estimated 800 to 1,000 trees to comply with the town's wildfire mitigation policies.

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Information from: The Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com

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