In 1997, Idaho BLM estimated that there were about
2,000 miles of pending claims for public highways across public lands
under RS 2477, including claims inside designated Forest Service
A November 2002 BLM booklet on “Road Management and Maintenance
Guidelines” concurred that there were “thousands” of claimed RS
2477 highways across public lands in Idaho.
Since then, Boise County has claimed more than 200
routes as "constructed public highways," though the county admits most
of them are only "trails," not "roads." Teton County, ID, has claimed
In late 2004, Idaho County published a map showing that
it claims more than 4,600 miles of routes as “constructed highways.”
This map shows more than
2,000 miles of claimed highways in designated wilderness, including
the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness and the Selway
Bitterroot Wilderness. It also includes nearly 900 miles of
“constructed highways” in areas the US Forest Service Identified as
“Roadless” just four years ago. Note:
The map takes a fair amount of time to load, and may not work
on all systems. Windows users can right-click and save the file on
their computers, which often works better.
In 2006, a state court in Idaho handed down a decision in a case
involving a claimed RS 2477 right-of-way,
Galli v. Idaho County
(June 2, 2006). The case is interesting because it shows the
extremes to which county governments in Idaho will go in support of
questionable claims. In this case, Idaho County supported a
mining company's attempt to tear down a gate on private land to gain
access to a mining claim on adjacent Forest Service land. While
the county had decided that evidence from a few old maps, and evidence
of homes and communities in the area a century ago, supported a
finding that a right-of-way existed -- an argument pushed by other
extreme counties across the West -- the court rejected that conclusion
as inconsistent with state law.
court ruled the evidence was not enough to show a public highway was
created at a specific location and sent the decision back to the
county commission for it to take action consistent with the ruling.
But the county still claimed the road is public. Most recently, the
court confirmed its June
ruling on January 25, 2007, when it overturned the county commission’s
read a Capital Press
article about the Gallis' land.