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

RS 2477 is remnant of the mining law of 1866, which was repealed in 1976 when the Federal Land Policy and Management Act was passed.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.




  1. Vicki Avatar

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

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    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. Rick Hammel Avatar
    Rick Hammel

    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. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    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


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan