Colorado Senate and RS 2477
Dark Cloud
Posted 3/10/2004 1:21 PM (#1010)
Subject: Colorado Senate and RS 2477

Site Owner

Posts: 239
Location: Boulder, CO





WHEREAS, The United States Congress, for the purpose of 1

promoting the settlement of the western United States by the construction 2

of roads, granted a right-of-way for the construction of highways over 3

public lands not reserved for public uses in Section 8 of the Mining Act 4

of 1866, reenacted and recodified as Revised Statutes 2477 (R.S. 2477), 5

43 U.S.C. sec. 932 (repealed October 21, 1976); and 6

WHEREAS, The above-mentioned right to construct highways 7

across public lands, except those withdrawn from public use, effected a 8

grant that was accepted whenever and wherever roads were constructed 9

over unreserved federal land, and these public roads remain available to 10

this day for public use; and 11

WHEREAS, Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton negotiated a 12

Memorandum of Understanding for Acknowledging R.S. 2477 13

rights-of-way in Utah in 2003 without input from stakeholders; and 14

WHEREAS, Identifying, asserting, maintaining, and protecting 15

legitimate rights-of-way can be useful to protect the state of Colorado's 16

social and economic resources and to promote public health and safety, 17

including but not limited to search and rescue, fire protection, health and 18

law enforcement, and other emergency services; and 19






WHEREAS, The state of Colorado and its counties have a critical 1

role to play regarding the inventorying, maintenance, and abandonment 2

of roads, including R.S. 2477 rights-of-way, in manners that protect or 3

enhance each local jurisdiction's socio-economic status; and 4

WHEREAS, Colorado's national parks, national monuments, 5

national wildlife refuges, wilderness, wilderness study areas, and other 6

pristine wildlands provide a wealth of valuable resources and services, 7

including fish and wildlife, drinking water, recreation, scenery, and 8

tourism, and pride in natural heritage that benefit our state and local 9

economies; and 10

WHEREAS, The wise management of these national parks, 11

national monuments, national wildlife refuges, wilderness, wilderness 12

study areas, and other pristine wildlands is in the best interest of the state 13

and its counties; and 14

WHEREAS, R.S. 2477 rights-of-way across such lands could 15

impact these enumerated values; and 16

WHEREAS, Entities can gain rights-of-way to cross millions of 17

acres of Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service lands using 18

the process and powers outlined in Title V of the "Federal Land Policy 19

and Management Act of 1976"; and 20

WHEREAS, Federal public lands are generally open to pedestrian 21

and equestrian travel, and thousands of miles of existing motor vehicle 22

trails and roads currently traverse federal public lands; and 23

WHEREAS, The issue of outstanding R.S. 2477 rights-of-way has 24

created uncertainty and confusion regarding county jurisdiction over and 25

management of affected public lands in part because asserted 26

rights-of-way traverse private, county, state, tribal, and federal land 27

management boundaries, and all such claims should be resolved 28

expeditiously within a set time; and 29

WHEREAS, When enacted, R.S. 2477 provided access across 30

intervening federal land to the owners of landlocked parcels of private 31

land, including farmers, miners, and homesteaders, but the statute has 32

been illegitimately used in recent years to force roads across private land 33

for public access to federal lands, including lands accessible by 34

alternative routes; and 35

WHEREAS, The issue of outstanding R.S. 2477 rights-of-way has 36

also resulted in conflicts concerning passage over private property that 37

have in some cases resulted in litigation, allegations of trespass, and 38

property damage; and 39

WHEREAS, Maintenance across private property for these R.S. 40

2477 rights-of-way has remained the sole responsibility of the original 41

private property owners even upon use by the public; and 42

WHEREAS, Congress has previously asserted its prerogative that 43



it, and not any agency of the federal government, is the best venue for 1

balancing the competing values involving R.S. 2477; now, therefore, 2

Be It Resolved by the Senate of the Sixty-fourth General Assembly


of the State of Colorado:

That we, the members of the Senate of the Sixty-fourth General 5

Assembly: 6

1. Recommend that legislation be adopted by Congress to resolve 7

and address issues related to R.S. 2477 rights-of-way on federal, state, 8

tribal, and private lands; 9

2. Urge that any such legislation should reflect input from the 10

states and should carefully consider the numerous competing values at 11

issue; 12

3. Acknowledge a county's right, title, and interest in legitimate 13

and established R.S. 2477 rights-of-way, including the need to clarify the 14

extent of a county's obligation to maintain any such right-of-way declared 15

to be public; and 16

4. Support R.S. 2477 rights-of-way being identified and asserted 17

as desired by counties after thorough public input processes that involve 18

all stakeholders, including the owners of any affected lands. 19


Be It Further Resolved,

President George W. Bush, Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, and the 21

members of Colorado's congressional delegation. 22

That copies of this Resolution be sent to 20