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BlueRibbon Coalition

COLORADO CONGRESSMAN SEEKING TO BAR BLM'S ABILITY TO
RECOGNIZE VALID EXISTING RIGHTS-OF-WAY (R.S. 2477)

Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO) has announced he intends to offer an amendment to the Interior appropriations bill that would essentially preclude any Interior agency from recognizing any R.S. 2477 right-of-way. If adopted as law, such a provision would undermine years of negotiation between Western counties and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) addressing county ownership of some of the thousands of roads crossing public lands, commonly known as R.S. 2477 roads.

Federal agency treatment of R.S. 2477 has long been a controversial and heavily politicized issue. Under current policy, counties can seek Interior and BLM recognition of qualifying R.S. 2477 rights-of-way via a "Recordable Disclaimer" as well as a "non-binding determination." The Udall amendment would attempt to reverse existing policy, requiring counties or other claimants to initiate costly litigation to have the status of every route resolved through the courts.

The Udall amendment is supported by well-funded Wilderness activist groups, such as the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), who have promised through their lawyers to declare "trench warfare" against any county hoping to defend public rights of access along R.S. 2477 rights-of-way.

BlueRibbon is concerned that the Udall amendment will stall evolution of a reasonable dialogue between federal, state and local governments and private interests on the status and management of R.S. 2477 routes. "By definition, many of these routes have been in existence for a century or more and provide access for all to our treasured public lands," noted Brian Hawthorne, BlueRibbon's Public Lands Policy Director.

"The status of these roads requires creative solutions forged by collaborative dialogue, not a last-minute amendment to a catch-all spending bill or other heavy-handed edicts designed to stall progress or bankrupt rural western counties," Hawthorne concluded.

About BlueRibbon Coalition
The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national recreation group that champions responsible use of public and private lands, and encourages individual environmental stewardship. It represents over 10,000 individual members and 1,200 organization and business members, for a combined total of over 600,000 recreationists nationwide. 1-800-258-3742. http://www.sharetrails.org

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Udall Draft Amendment
http://www.sharetrails.org/uploads/PL/UDALL_Folder/Udall_Draft_Amendment.pdf

A LEGISLATIVE SOLUTION?
Some in Congress realize that SUWA's brand of "trench warfare" gives the advantage to well-funded anti-access extremists and disadvantages rural communities and the American people.

New Mexico Representative Steve Pearce has introduced legislation in Congress designed to begin the dialogue and perhaps remove the cloud over title to these public access rights, once and for all. Although Congressman Pearce has cautioned us to keep in mind that the legislation will not be the conclusive end this controversy, we believe his legislation will lead to a comprehensive solution and eventually a victory for all who value access to and protection of our public lands.

Pearce's bill (now HR 308) would acknowledge and recognize a valid right-of-way for each road that appears as a public road in an official federal, state, or local governmental map published before October 21, 1976, or that appears as a public road in an official federal state or local governmental map published between October 21, 1976 and October 21, 1986, provided it also appears in a government aerial photograph taken on or before October 21, 1976.

For more information see:
RS-2477 RIGHTS OF WAY
http://www.sharetrails.org/index.cfm?page=42&story=919

A Brief Explanation of RS 2477
http://www.sharetrails.org/uploads/PL/UDALL_Folder/EXPLANATION OF RS 2477_FINAL.pdf

BRC ARTICLE ON KEY 10TH CIRCUIT COURT RULING ON R.S. 2477:
http://www.sharetrails.org/uploads/PL/UDALL_Folder/RS2477_The Legal Battle Continues.pdf


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