Access, Control Argued in Canyonlands, Salt Creek Road Appellate Hearing

The Associated Press

September 19, 2012

DENVER — The federal government said Wednesday it has control over highway access in national monuments even if no official notice was given, in a case that could affect highway rights of way on federal public land across the country.

Aaron Avila, attorney for the U.S. Justice Department, told an appeals court panel Wednesday that the federal government had the right to close a disputed highway right of way in an ecologically sensitive streambed in Canyonlands National Park in southeastern Utah. He said no one objected when barriers were put up in the 1970s in parts of a canyon limiting access, even though there were other access roads.

Read full story | Deseret News

Appeals Court to Hear Dispute Over Remote Utah Road | KSL.com

By Dave Cawley

September 19, 2012

“A long-simmering dispute over the status of an old Jeep track in Canyonlands National Park goes before the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver today. The outcome could have far-reaching consequences for Utah’s effort to take control of public lands.

The fight deals with Salt Creek Canyon, the primary access to Canyonlands’ picturesque Angel Arch. The U.S. National Park Service gated the canyon in 1998, based on complaints from the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. SUWA sued the government in 1995, saying Jeep access to the winding, sandy wash was adversely impacting the desert ecosystem.”

Read full story | KSL.com

More Lawsuits in Rural Roads Case | KSL.com

By Amy Joi O’Donoghue

May 13, 2012

“Utah’s legal fight to claim 12,000 roads isn’t about paving deer trails or putting in four-lane highways, but about preserving access by residents to roads with long, historical use.

That characterization of what is likely to be a protracted battle unfolding in federal court was emphasized Tuesday by Utah’s chief deputy attorney general John Swallow during a press conference detailing the state’s plans in the controversial RS2477 right-of-way dispute.”

Read full story | KSL.com

Utah deserves title to thousands of roads | The Salt Lake Tribune

By Anthony L. Rampton

May 12, 2012

Over the past two weeks, the Utah Attorney General’s Office has, on behalf of the State of Utah and respective counties, filed 21 lawsuits seeking quiet title to thousands of Utah roads. Unfortunately, there appears to be public confusion and misinformation as to the basis, nature and purpose of these lawsuits.

When the nation was in the throes of Western settlement and expansion, Congress permitted and encouraged the creation of roads across the vast public lands. Contained within the Mining Act of 1866, Congress passed R.S. 2477, a law recognizing and validating these “highways” that had been, or would be, created to facilitate settlement of the West. At the time, “highway” was a broad term that included any road created by either construction or use and open to the public.

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