In 2012, the Utah Attorney General’s Office filed 22 lawsuits in the Federal District Court for the District of Utah claiming title to R.S. 2477 rights-of-way for the State and Utah counties. Utah and each county asked the federal court to rule that the claimed R.S. 2477 rights-of-way are valid because they existed prior to 1976 and have been open to public use and/or maintained by the counties.
Under the statutes and court cases governing R.S. 2477 claims, Utah and the counties must submit proof of public use of each claimed right-of-way for a period of at least 10 years prior to October 21, 1976, the effective date of FLPMA. For the rights-of-way claimed within National Parks or National Monuments established before 1976, 10 years of public use must be shown prior to the date the park or monument was created.
- to confirm the State and counties as owners of the R.S. 2477 rights-of-way
- to allow counties to make local decisions about route maintenance
- to ensure public access to federal public lands for recreation, personal enjoyment, and any other purpose
- to preserve local transportation network for local economy
PLPCO assists the Utah Attorney General’s Office in R.S. 2477 litigation by providing research and litigation support. It is currently assisting with depositions of elderly and infirm witnesses who used or maintained R.S. 2477 roads prior to 1976. These Utah residents confirm that R.S. 2477 routes have been historically important to their lives and livelihoods. Many of them are getting older, and their personal accounts may be lost with the passage of time as the lawsuits continue. To prevent the loss of these valuable memories, PLPCO and Utah Attorney General’s Office attorneys are deposing them to preserve their knowledge and to present it later in court.