Letter to the Editor: BLM Should Expect It
Regarding Emery County's and the State of Utah's lawsuit to quiet title to seven roads in the San Rafael Swell, BLM spokesman Don Banks claims that the county agreed to the BLM plan that resulted in closure of the roads.
However, what Banks did not say was that BLM's planning process deliberately ignored Emery County's R. S. 2477 roads and refused to address the issue. Under BLM's planning scheme, the county was never given the opportunity to disagree. The BLM cannot be surprised that a planning technique that overlooked obvious legal issues has resulted in litigation. The BLM has attempted to use the same "ignore and close" technique in its current land plan revisions throughout the state. However, counties and the state, having learned the hard way from BLM's San Rafael plan and the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument plan, are now compelling BLM to consider, rather than ignore, R.S. 2477 highways.
Federal law requires that vested rights be considered, not ignored, during Federal land use planning. Federal law also requires that Federal plans be consistent with local land use plans to the maximum extent possible. The BLM must follow the law or expect litigation.
Governor Huntsman, Attorney General Shurtleff, and the Emery County officials are simply reminding BLM of these realities. I believe Utahns overwhelmingly support these officials' actions.