Yelm Prairie Line Trail

See if your property qualifies for compensation from the Federal Government

Yelm Prairie Line Trail – Rails to Trails Conversion

If you own property next to the railroad tracks that will become the Yelm Prairie Line Trail in Pierce or Thurston Counties in Washington, you could be eligible for compensation from the federal government over the conversion of the railroad right-of-way to a recreational trail.  The attorneys at Maglio Christopher & Toale, P.A. would like to represent you in getting that compensation.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Yelm Praire Line Trail Conversion

No, your property rights claim will be filed against the federal government. The federal government is responsible for compensating you for any property taking as federal law provides for the conversion of the railroad right-of-way to a recreational trail.  

Design and construction of a recreational trail is typically done at the local level and is not impacted by a federal suit. By filing a claim, you are not stopping the recreational trail from being built, but simply seeking just compensation from the federal government for your property that is being taken to construct the trail on the abandoned railroad right-of-way.

It will cost you nothing.  We will represent you in this federal claim without charging you for our legal services.  If we prevail in your case, our attorneys’ legal fees would be paid by the Court of Federal Claims at the conclusion of the case. We do not take a contingency fee from your award. 

If you’d like more information, feel free to contact us.

There is no guarantee that you will recover damages. If you do recover damages, the amount you receive will be based on a variety of factors individual to each parcel and property owner. Contact us so we can discuss your specific property.

Most of the legal proceedings will be conducted at the United States Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., where our firm has an office located three blocks away from the Court.

However, when it comes time for trial it may take place in Washington, DC, or in Pierce or Thurston Counties.

If you file a claim, your involvement will vary at different stages of the litigation. There may be times when you hear from us frequently and need to assist us, such as when we are gathering initial information. 

We will keep you updated on important developments in your case.  You are also welcome to contact us for a status update on your case if you have not heard from us.

If you have any questions or want to schedule a meeting with our attorneys in our downtown Seattle office, call 888-952-5242 or fill out the form below.  There is no cost to review your case and no obligation to retain our legal representation.

The Yelm Praire Line Trail Extension

  • The Yelm Prairie Line Trail is part of a community rails-to-trails extension consisting of a 4.8 mile strip of land between Yelm and Roy.
  • Eventually this short section of trail will connect to the Willapa Hills Trail and Palouse to Cascades Trail.
  • The rail bridges over the Nisqually River and Centralia Canal are structurally sound.  
Map from Yelm Prairie Line Trail Onesheet

Notice of Interim Trail Use or Abandonment

On July 8, 2020 the Surface Transportation Board (STB) granted an abandonment exemption to the City of Yelm. This “notice of interim trail use (NITU) allows the city to establish a community trail while “rail banking” the railroad line for possible future transportation use.   You can read the original decision by the STB by clicking on the PDF image. 

Why Choose Maglio Christopher & Toale, P.A.?

  • Maglio Christopher & Toale, P.A. is a Seattle based law firm. 
  • Attorney Talis Abolins is a local attorney practicing law in Pierce and Thursdaon Counties. He’s a native Washingtonian and his family has lived in Pierce County for generations. 
  • Our office is in downtown Seattle, but our attorneys practice law in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, DC, which is where the Yelm Prairie Line Trail cases are heard.  
  • Our law firm supports Rails-to-Trails conversions because they add value to neighborhoods and turn unused strips of land into productive community park areas.
  • Filing a Yelm Prairie Line Trail claim does NOT stop or impact this process. We are simply asking the federal government to fairly compensate adjacent landowners for their property based on your constitutional rights

Meet our Rails-to-Trails Legal Team

MCTLaw Attorney Talis Abolins

Talis Abolins, Attorney

Talis is a local attorney practicing in Pierce and Thursday Counties, as well as throughout Washington. He served as a Washington State Assistant Attorney General for 14 years before entering private practice. Talis is a native Washingtonian and 4 generations of his family hail from Pierce County.

Laura Bauman Attorney mctlaw

Laura Bauman, Attorney

Laura Bauman's legal practice focuses on commercial litigation matters with extensive experience in real estate litigation, including: Contract disputes, title defects, lien foreclosures and priority contests, and governance issues involving associations and private clubs. Laura applies her extensive background in real estate and land use litigation to the firm's federal rails to trails cases.

Christina Unkel

Christina Unkel, Attorney

Christina Unkel is an attorney focusing her practice primarily in business law and complex litigation. Prior to joining Maglio Christopher & Toale, PA, Mrs. Unkel held positions with a civil litigation law firm and a boutique construction and commercial litigation law firm. Her experience includes handling complex commercial civil litigation matters, multi-million dollar settlements, administrative hearings with state entities, and addressing telecommunication issues.

Altom Maglio Headshot

Altom M. Maglio, Attorney

Altom (“Al” and “Tom” combined – the names of his grandfathers) Maglio represents individuals across the United States in complex civil litigation. Mr. Maglio founded Maglio Christopher & Toale, P.A. in 1999 to represent people and not corporations or big government. Today Mr. Maglio serves as the managing partner of the Firm, which actively represents clients involved in complex litigation in all 50 states and all U.S. territories. Altom is President-elect of the United States Court of Federal Claims Bar Association and has been actively involved in the bar of the Court of Federal Claims for many years.

William Christopher

William G. Christopher, Attorney

William “Bill” G. Christopher’s has over 40 years of experience in the practice of law with large to medium-size firms in Washington, DC, Michigan, and Florida. His practice has involved complex litigation, including property takings cases by governmental entities. Prior to becoming an attorney, he was an officer (Captain) in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (1962-1967). Bill is a 1962 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Find Out Now if You Have a
Yelm Priarie Line TRAIL Claim

Your case review is free.  There is a deadline to file your case.  Let us review your property records. 

Rails-to-Trails Land Taking

In 1983, Congress amended the National Trails System Act, which is also known as the Rails-to-Trails Act. The Act grants the federal government the authority to turn abandoned railroad right-of-ways into a nationwide system of recreational trails. The Act includes a program that lets railroad companies transfer the land under their railroad tracks to organizations, cities, or individuals who will convert it into recreational trails for public use. In order to transfer this land, the federal government, through the Rails-to-Trails Act, puts into motion a “federal taking” of the abandoned railroad corridors, which likely would have reverted to the adjoining landowners.

Typically this is how the process occurs:

  • A railroad company abandons or stops using a railway corridor.
  • The federal government “takes” that land back for another use, such as a community recreation trail.
  • Private property owners adjacent to the land can demand to be fairly paid for that transfer of property since they’re not getting it back.
  • The property owner files a lawsuit against the federal government in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington D.C. asking for “just compensation” for the taking of his or her land.

What’s unusual in Rails-to-Trails land seizures is that the federal government takes what appears to be the railroad’s track for public use, but you may actually own the land under the tracks and thus be entitled to compensation.

What is the U.S. Court of Federal Claims

The United States Court of Federal Claims is headquartered in Washington, D.C. but it hears cases against the federal government that originates anywhere in the country, including Rails-to-Trails cases.  It generally handles cases asking for more than $10,000 in compensation from the U.S. government. To make it easier for plaintiffs, judges can hold trials at local courthouses in the area where the dispute is located. That means you could go to trial in your hometown instead of traveling to Washington D.C.

Our Legal Experience in the Court of Federal Claims

Very few attorneys in the United States work in the Court of Federal Claims regularly.  All of the Rails to Trails lawyers at Maglio Christopher & Toale, P. A. are admitted to practice in the Court.  Over the past 20 years, the Firm has represented hundreds of clients in cases before this Court. 

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