Utah Submits RS-2477 Application, BLM Posts Documentation for Claim
Utah recently submitted the state's first formal application for an acknowledgment of an RS-2477 right of way from the United States government.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management posted documentation submitted by Utah as grounds for the RS-2477 right of way on Weiss Highway.
The Weiss Highway is a 99-mile long road in western Juab County.
Published in the Federal Register, the notification of Utah's pending RS-2477 application opened a 60-day comment period.
"Materials for public review include maps, photographs, affidavits and other support documentation," pointed out Utah BLM State Director Sally Wisely while making the federal agency's announcement.
"Interested parties and the public are encouraged to access our RS-2477 website to review this information and provide comments on the application," continued the director of the federal agency's Utah office.
The BLM will review federal land records and supporting evidence pertinent to Utah's application for an RS-2477 right of way on Weiss Highway.
As part of the process, the federal agency will also review the information gathered during the public comment period to determine whether Utah's claim meets the requirements of applicable statues, regulations and the terms of a memorandum of understanding penned between former Gov. Mike Leavitt and U.S. Secretary of Interior Gail Norton last April.
"It's time to move forward, and by working collaboratively with the state of Utah, we are able to resolve a long-disputed issue that may otherwise have led to costly and lengthy litigation," noted Norton at the time of the agreement's signing .
The agreement was specifically aimed at resolving the uncertainty about existing rights of way claims on federal land.
"The MOU provides a process for considering the acknowledgment of legitimate roads which meet the statutory definition of RS-2477 under almost any interpretation of the statute," explained Wisely.
The criteria include several key touchstones outlined in the agreement:
Only roads on unreserved public lands established prior to the October 1976 enactment of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act will be considered.
Although the U.S. Congress repealed RS-2477 with FLPMA, the action did not terminate rights of way in existence at that time, indicated the Utah BLM director.
As part of the new law in 1976, Congress recognized all valued existing claims to the rights of way.
Qualifying roads are important components of rural transportation that have been subject to some type of periodic maintenance and can accommodate automobiles or trucks with four wheels.
Claims will not be considered on highways or roads in national parks, wildlife refuges, designated wilderness and BLM wilderness study areas.
Roads administered by federal agencies other than the U.S. Department of Interior will not be considered, unless the agencies consent to inclusion in the acknowledgment process.
If sufficient evidence supports Utah's claim, the BLM will issue a recordable disclaimer document confirming that the United States recognizes the existence of an RS-2477 right of way on the Weiss Highway.
The recordable disclaimer is an administrative tool that can be used to correct or clarify the federal interest in properties which have clouded title for one reason or another.
The disclaimer would recognize the right of way "as is, where is," indicated the federal officials.
In the case of the Weiss Highway, Utah is requesting a right of way based upon a road width that varies from 40 to 60 feet. Subsequent requests to improve the road in any way substantially altering the character or falling outside the scope of ordinary maintenance will require obtaining additional authorization.
Carbon County residents with Internet access may review or make comments on Utah's application via visiting the BLM's RS-2477 Web site. The address is http://www.ut.blm.gov/rs2477/weisshighway.htm.
All comments must be postmarked or received by the BLM by April 9.
A final decision on the merits of the application is expected in May.