By order of preliminary injunction, the gate at the trailhead will remain open to allow for full access to the Preserve by the public until further order of the Court. The Court recognized that this trailhead has long served as one of the primary access points to the Mountain, including the point of entry for local emergency and fire departments.
The Court’s preliminary injunction also prohibits all cutting and removing of trees and other flora on the property; the disturbing of wildlife, trails, and waterways found on the property; and any other action that would harm the property or change its character.
The Court reached its decision after a two-day hearing where counsel for both sides took the testimony of four witnesses and entered more than a dozen exhibits. The Court determined that Ruffner has a reasonable legal claim to ownership of, or an easement over, the disputed property under Alabama law due its use by the public as a trailhead for more than 20 years.
The trailhead also lies on the former Birmingham Mineral Rail Line, the ownership of which is in dispute. Evidence of the historical significance of the Mineral Rail Line was submitted to the Court, as were deeds and related documents establishing that as early as the late 1800's the mineral rail line passed through the property, as well as the cities of Birmingham and Irondale and Jefferson County.
We would like to thank everyone who has followed this case since its beginning and supported Ruffner along the way. We truly could not do this without you!
We will update you in the coming weeks with any new developments.