RS 2477 is remnant of the mining law of 1866, which was repealed in 1976 when the Federal Land Policy and Management Act was passed. The intent of rs2477 was to grant access to miners on the public domain way back when, and its purpose had long expired.

Nevertheless, some crafty lawyers with help from the first Bush Administration seized on it as a method for claiming that any old track or even sled trail on public lands was in fact “a highway,” and could be turned into an ATV runway or even a paved highway by a county contrary on any other law. Some even want to use it to attack private property rights to assert RS 2477 claims exist on private property where a way has been abandoned.

Some rural counties and lawless off-road groups have used it as a cudgel to attack proposed wilderness areas, national monuments and even national parks. The second Bush administration has been only too happy to accommodate them.

Now Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colorado is sponsoring a measure to the Dept. of Interior’s appropriations that would forbid the BLM from spending money to validate rs2477 claims by counties or states. Putting it in the budget largely protects it from filibuster, thus only a majority of the Senate needs to approve it rather than the 60 votes needed to kill the filibuster.

Here is the story in the Denver Post. Udall wants BLM not to surrender roads to locals. By Thomas Burr (originally from the Salt Lake Tribune). I should note that RS 2477 abuses have been most common in Utah.

 
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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

4 Responses to Colorado’s Rep. Udall to sponsor amendment to kill abusive use of RS 2477 law.

  1. avatar Vicki says:

    I am glad to see that Colorado is taking a forward initiative on environmental issues. Keep it up!

  2. This is just Representative Udall (who could become Senator Udall in 2008. The Republican incumbent is stepping down.

    Colorado does seem to be a state where public opinion in favor of conservation is increasing.

  3. avatar Rick Hammel says:

    The abuses of RS 2477 need to be curtailed. Moffat County, where I live (NWcorner of the state) has designated over a 1000 miles of routes. The county commissioners have submitted 10 routes to the BLM for consideration. Many of these routes are within roadless areas.

    The county has a land use planner, whose main function is to secure thse routes as county roads. Hopefully Mark Udall’s bill will pass and put somewhat of a hold on our county’s land grab mentallity.

  4. In Bannock County, Idaho we have a county commissioner who wants to use it to open abandoned routes across private lands.

    I have sympathy for some of his goals, but RS 2477 is a big threat to private property rights as well as public property

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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