Threats to Private Property
While RS 2477 granted rights for highway construction
across unreserved public lands, it applied to lands that had that
status at any time between its enactment in 1866 and its repeal in
1976 – which includes many of the West’s private lands that were once
public, and were homesteaded, granted to the State or other parties,
or that became private through mining law provisions. Adopting loose
standards for what constitutes a “highway” under RS 2477 will thus
make it easier for third parties to press for highway rights-of-way
over private lands. Landowners may see property values plummet as
their land suddenly could become burdened with a right-of-way for the
public to pass through. Some private property owners have had gates
ripped down, and suffered trespass that damages property done in the
name of RS 2477.
Check out a new website
of a private property owners' group fighting to close the RS 2477
Read case studies from Alaska, Colorado, and other states.
letter from Jana and Ron Smith published in the June 21, 2003 Salt
Lake Tribune about how County officials ripped off a gate to open
an unrecorded RS 2477 right-of-way across their property, an act that
forced the Smiths to file--and win--a lawsuit that the right-of-way
did not exist.
Platt’s June 30, 2003 letter to the editor in the Salt Lake Tribune
that tells a story similar to that of the Smiths, again in Utah.
Read more about how the owners of one Colorado Ranch have had their
property damaged by renegade off-roaders claiming a right across
their trail from RS 2477.
Read an August 7, 2003, story from the Boulder Daily Camera about
the trials visited by RS 2477 on a family-owned ranch in Colorado.
Read an August 19, 2003, Denver Post story about how you one
family may have to spend $100,000 to halt trespass on its land, where
some invoke RS 2477 to protect their trespass.
Read a November 2003, Colorado Springs Independent story about how
Teller County, Colorado is prosecuting a private land owner for
putting up a gate to protect his property from destruction from
off-road vehicles. Teller County's claim: the road is an RS 2477
right-of-way, and it's a crime to close off a county road.
Read the Colorado Springs Gazette story about the case heading for
trial in May 2004.
Read a January 27, 2004, article from the Rocky Mountain News:
"Ghost roads haunt owners of private land."
Susanna Hoffman's property in the Colorado mountains was bulldozed
by neighbors in the name of RS 2477.
Read an account of a person who bought a piece of land with a "private" road on it, only to find that it may be subject to RS 2477.
calls on Congress to fix the problem.
Uintah County, in early 2006, was forced by irate landowners to erase
19 Class D roads from the official county map. The roads lie wholly on
Read an account from the Vernal Express.