Kane County officials and the Utah Attorney General’s Office are celebrating what they say is a major win in the longstanding legal fight to win title from the federal government to multiple rights-of-way on Civil War-era roads.
This case and 22 other lawsuits filed by the state and counties last year, revolve around what’s called RS2477 roads, part of a transportation network established through an 1866 law to foster movement in the West.
“It marks a great victory for Kane County in our road battle we have been working on for a decade,” said Kane County Commissioner Dirk Clayson.
Utah off road community has been fighting the Federal Government to access for years. This ruling stands as a major win to open up more of the roads that were once open to vehicles but were closed down by the Federal Government.
The Wednesday ruling by U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups granted the county and the state title to 12 of 15 roads that had been in dispute with the U.S. Department of Interior — access Clayton said is important to preserve for motor vehicle use.
“There is this perception here that we are making new roads, but we are not,” he said. “We are trying to preserve what already exists.”
Although that law has since been repealed through the adoption of federal environmental laws, the state and counties’ rights of way to roads that already existed were grandfathered in.
What constitutes a “road” and what access remains, however, has since been at the heart of protracted dispute with the federal government to the frustration of counties that have seen key witnesses die off before they can offer testimony to the roads’ uses.
To force some sort of resolution in the disputes, the state filed its lawsuits asserting claims to nearly 12,000 RS2477 roads in 22 counties.
With this victory, state and Kane County officials believe they will prevail in other roads’ cases, with Clayson pointing out that close to 900 more roads remain in contention in Kane County alone.