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Colorado counties assert control of roadways

May 23, 2014

Seek To Halt BLM Closing Of Historic Routes

Two Colorado counties passed resolutions in April asserting claim to control historic roads that pass through federal lands.

Garfield County and Mesa County officials acted in response to a draft resource management plan filed by the Grand Junction Field Office of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management that includes a proposal to close some roads. 

County officials in Colorado are concerned that roads might be closed that emergency services use for access to remote areas.

Joining the counties in opposition to the proposed road closings are all-terrain-vehicle enthusiast groups, sportsmen and guide services.

County officials say that many roads within their jurisdictions existed before Colorado became a state in 1876. They are relying on federal Revised Statute 2477 for their legal claim to control.

R.S. 2477 was repealed by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, with a savings provision for rights established prior to the repeal.

According to the BLM website, the “BLM does not have the authority to make binding determinations on the validity of R.S. 2477 right-of-way claims. The BLM may, however, make informal, non-binding, administrative determinations for its own land use planning and management purposes. Such determinations must be based in the particular laws of each state in which a claimed right-of-way is situated.”

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