• Bill to address RS 2477
Representative Steven Pearce (R-New Mexico) has introduced a bill in an attempt to clear up the issue of who controls RS 2477 rights-of-way across public lands.
Revised Statute 2477 was passed by Congress in 1866, and it simply states, “The right-of-way for the construction of highways across public lands not reserved for public purposes is hereby granted.”
For a more detailed explanation of RS 2477 rights-of-way, see “RS 2477 Fact vs. Fiction” on page 14.
Pearce’s bill, HR 6298, has two parts. The first part of the bill would declare valid all RS 2477 routes that appear on government maps between 1866 and 1976 that did not have a prior reservation, such as a prior national forest or national park designation.
The second part of the bill would create a new procedure for state and local governments to validate unmapped rights-of-way.
It is doubtful the current Congress will address the bill before their session ends this year. If the Republicans lose control of the House of Representatives we may never see action on HR 6298.
• Roadless Rule update
The Clinton-era Roadless Rule is back in the headlines again.
In late September 2006, US District Judge Elizabeth Laporte (9th Circuit—San Francisco) reinstated the Roadless Rule, which former president Clinton signed during his last days in office. The rule placed over 58 million acres of national forest off-limits to development, including mining.
A total of six federal judges have weighed in on the Roadless Rule, three for it and three against it. US District Judge Clarence Brimmer (10th Circuit—Wyoming) declared the Roadless Rule invalid back in 2003. Wyoming Attorney General Pat Crank has already filed a motion to reinstate Judge Brimmer’s invalidation of the Clinton Roadless Rule.
US Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey said the Bush administration was considering whether to file its own appeal, but noted the government disagreed with a number of the findings, particularly the need to do an environmental impact statement.