Natural treasures are at risk from bogus road claims in
On the Flathead National Forest, counties and motorized
user groups sued the Forest Service in June 2003 challenging vehicle
route closures, arguing that RS 2477 gives the county, not the
Forest Service, control of the routes. Forest Service route closures
are usually adopted to protect watersheds, wildlife (including grizzly
bears, which are especially sensitive to disturbance by motor
vehicles), and scarce taxpayer funds. Conservation groups have
intervened in the lawsuit to ensure no ‘sweet deals’ are cut that
would reverse the route closures by granting bogus RS 2477 claims.
In the Gravelly Range, the Bureau of Land Management
has proposed opening a vehicle route inside a wilderness study area (WSA),
in response to a threatened RS 2477 lawsuit by the local county. The
vehicle route would essentially cut the WSA in half.
Read more about the controversy in the February 9, 2003, Bozeman
2006: Jefferson County, Montana, on the east side of the continental
divide between Butte and Helena, has asserted control of all routes in
the county on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest and
nearby BLM land. The assertion appears aimed at challenging some route
closures in the area. The Forest Service says it is willing to talk.
February 3, 2006 article from the Helena Independent Record.
2007: The Jefferson County Commission
claims private interests are entitled to use U.S. Forest Service
access roads that were closed in 2002 as the result of an
environmental analysis. The County intends to inventory the roads and
to stake its claims on them using RS 2477.
Read a related March 3, 2007 article from the
Helena Independent Record.
Read the draft resolution presented to the County Commission for
Taking its cues from Jefferson County, now the Mineral
County Commission will likely stake its RS 2477 claims on an old
Forest Service route system.
Read a March 14, 2007 article
from the Clark Fork Chronicle about Mineral County’s aggressive
approach to gain maintenance rights to access roads before the routes
are decommissioned in the new forest plan.
Read an April 4, 2007 article from the Clark Fork Chronicle that
follows up on Mineral County's RS 2477 claims. The Commission's
process is transformed into a road-by-road review now that it is
confronted with the complications of its aggressive initial approach.
The Blaine County
Attorney Donald Ranstrom determined Bullwhacker road, which crosses
private land, is public using R.S. 2477 to stake his claim.
Read an October 21, 2007 article to learn more.