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Mapping Utah's RS 2477 Road Claims

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<i>Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance</i>
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SUWA's map of RS 2477 road claims on public land in Utah.

By Dan Bammes

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kuer/local-kuer-1010332.mp3

Salt Lake City, UT – The state of Utah has until June 14th to file a lawsuit claiming more than 18,000 roads across public land. The state's claim is based on an old federal law called RS 2477. The law was repealed in 1976, but if a road was in regular use before then, the state can claim it. That sounds ridiculous to Heidi McIntosh from the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. It's now plotted the claims on a map, and she says many of them are creek beds or animal tracks -- not roads at all.

"Some of these are just downright outrageous and ludicrous and have no business on any transportation map," McIntosh says. "In fact, they'd be dangerous to travel. You can imagine a tourist coming to visit southern Utah and looking at a map of these things and thinking they can go out and drive them."

Mike Swenson with the Utah Shared Access Alliance says the state needs to go ahead with the lawsuit, whether these are well-used graded roads or something less obvious.

"It doesn't really matter," Swenson says. "The fact that it's a property right owned by the state is the real issue. So whether it's a cow path, an animal trail or a paved highway, the state has an interest in that and they should do whatever they can to protect that right."

The state has been trying to negotiate a settlement on R-S 2477 roads in Iron County, and McIntosh says that process should go ahead no matter what the state does with its lawsuit.

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