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Court Declines to Rehear Kanab Roads Case

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Troy Snow
Kanab, Utah

A federal appeals court has declined to reconsider a ruling that left six Kane County roads in the control of the federal government.

Back in March 2013, state and county officials celebrated a U.S. District Court ruling that granted Kane County and the state of Utah title to 12 of 15 roads named in a dispute with the U.S. Department of Interior.

But just this past December the 10th circuit court of appeals reversed part of that decision, ruling Kane County and the state could only claim six of the twelve. The state asked the circuit court to rehear the decision. But this week that request was denied. Steve Bloch is the legal director for Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

“From where we sit, it’s another rejection of the state land grab movement,” Bloch says. “And I think it’s a fair call on the legislature and the governor to stop wasting millions of dollars of the taxpayers’ money in these losing battles.

Republican State Representative Mike Noel of Kanab says the state will likely file a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.

“It’s always a heavy lift in these cases,” Noel says. “But I think because of the split, like I said, you’ve got one court and another court, because it’s an issue that’s bothered us for a long time, I think there’s a good chance we could win this thing.”

The case is part of a series of lawsuits the state and counties filed in 2012 based on a civil-war era law that encouraged settlers to develop roads across public lands in the west. Congress repealed the law in 1976, but grandfathered in roads that already existed. 

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