Is Utah’s demand for routes over federal land too late? | The Salt Lake Tribune

By Brian Maffly

July 31, 2014

“Utah is suing the federal government in 22 counties, demanding title to thousands of miles of routes across public lands.

But in a new move that could sharply narrow the disputes, federal lawyers and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance are arguing the state waited decades too long to file its claims.

They disagree, however, on which legal deadline applies.

Asking a judge to dismiss Garfield County’s claims, federal attorneys point to a federal act. SUWA, attacking Tooele County’s claims, cites a state law in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in 3rd District Court in Tooele.

“Case law is thin in this area” said SUWA legal director Steve Bloch, “and we are hopeful this is a tool to challenge state’s wasteful spending and anti-wilderness agenda.”

State lawyers are still preparing a response to the federal filing and have yet to study the argument raised in the SUWA suit.

But Tony Rampton, the assistant Utah attorney general spearheading state litigation over the routes, believes the statute SUWA invokes may not be relevant.

The claims date back to a Civil War-era statute known as RS 2477, which once granted counties title to routes crossing public land. It was repealed with the passage of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, or FLPMA, in 1976.

To prevail on a particular route claim under the federal Quiet Title Act today, counties must document 10 years of continuous use prior to 1976.”

Read full story | The Salt Lake Tribune

Salt Creek Canyon Road Decision | Deseret News

By Amy Joi O’Donoghue

April 29, 2014

“On Friday, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Utah and San Juan County failed to prove that Salt Creek Canyon Road was a “public thoroughfare,” meaning the road remains off-limits to their rights-of-way claims under a Civil War-era statute.

“It would be mistake to consider this decision limiting us from going forward in our other road cases,” said Harry Souvall, public lands section chief for the Utah Attorney General’s Office. He added that the decision provides clarity on such issues as statutes of limitations, but does not shut down the state and counties’ case in claims to 12,000 other roads.”

Read full story | Deseret News

R.S. 2477 Settlement in Juab County

County Seat episode with Juan Palma (State Director for the BLM Utah Office), Glen Greenhalgh (Public Lands Director at Juab County), and Chad Winn (Juab County Commissioner) discussing settlement recognizing Juab County and State’s R.S. 2477 rights-of-way to three roads.

This settlement serves as a tangible reminder that certain R.S. 2477 issues can be resolved through good-faith negotiations and cooperation.

~ Juan Palma, BLM Utah State Director

The settlement has been a model of successful negotiation between the state, county, federal government, and environmental organizations, each having distinct and often contradicting interests in roads and underlying areas.

The Deep Creeks settlement may prove to be a model for resolving many of the thousands of claims that remain.

~ Heidi McIntosh, Earthjustice