Tenth Circuit Denies SUWA’s Intervention in Kane R.S. 2477 Bald Knoll Appeal

Earlier this month the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals denied intervention by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) and The Wilderness Society (TWS) into an ongoing R.S. 2477 roads lawsuit in Kane County. The suit, an effort by the State of Utah and Kane County to quiet title to 15 roads in the Bald Knoll area of Kane County, resulted in the Utah Federal District Court awarding title to 12 of the roads to the state and county.

Initially, in May of 2009, the lower court (the Utah Federal District Court) denied intervention by SUWA and TWS. The Tenth Circuit affirmed this order. On appeal to the Tenth Circuit in 2013, SUWA and TWS again moved to intervene seeking full participation in this lawsuit. On September 2, 2014, the Tenth Circuit panel denied intervention.

SUWA and TWS immediately moved for amicus curiae status. The Tenth Circuit granted this request but prohibited SUWA and TWS’s participation in the oral argument. Amicus status allows SUWA and TWS to file briefs as “friends of the court” but not as parties. The court may consider amicus filings but the extent and weight of such consideration are discretionary.

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