RS 2477 Archives


  • CedarMtns_RayBloxham
    May 3rd, 2016

    Today, a three-judge panel of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order that clears the path for Tooele County resident Michael Abdo and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance to move forward with a state court lawsuit that could derail the State of Utah’s RS 2477 litigation in Tooele County and beyond.

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  • April 18th, 2016

    On April 4, the Utah Supreme Court heard oral argument on a pivotal question of state law that could affect the future of the state of Utah’s R.S. 2477 litigation. The question was “certified” by the federal court hearing the state of Utah’s suite of R.S. 2477 claims, a mechanism by which the federal court can enlist the state’s highest court to resolve novel questions of state law.  It’s a wonky question with big implications—whether a particular law is a “statute of repose” or a “statute of limitations.”  Should the Court decide it’s the former, it could mean the end of the state of Utah’s massive, wasteful, and anti-wilderness suite of R.S. 2477 litigation.

    The Court recently posted an audio recording of the argument.  SUWA was represented at oral argument by Jess Krannich, a partner at the Salt Lake City law firm of Manning Curtis Bradshaw & Bednar, LLC.  We expect a decision by the end of this summer, but in the meantime, give it a listen!

    >>Click here to listen to audio recording.

  • IMG_3274_B
    February 24th, 2016

    The “Utah Test and Training Range Encroachment Prevention and Temporary Closure Act” (H.R. 4579), introduced by Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), aims to give away federal public lands under the guise of national security.

    A companion to Senator Hatch’s S. 2383, the legislation would withdraw roughly 625,000 acres of BLM lands to expand the Utah Test and Training Range—already the largest military training ground in the United States—purportedly to accommodate a new fleet of F-35 jets. But it goes well beyond that mission by granting 6,000 miles of RS 2477 rights-of-way to Box Elder, Juab, and Tooele counties.

    Write to your members of Congress and tell them to oppose this latest land grab attempt!

    These so-called routes, many of which are simply faded two-tracks, cow paths or streambeds in the desert, run directly across federal public lands and fragment critical habitats, proposed wilderness, wilderness study areas, and even parts of the designated Cedar Mountain Wilderness! Caught up in the state’s land grab fever, these counties have sued the federal government to wrest control of these bogus routes, but are unlikely to win the majority in court. Forfeiting them now in this bill would set a dangerous precedent, not just in Utah, but throughout the West.

    Tell your members of Congress that national defense is perfectly compatible with protecting our national heritage!

    CedarMtns2_RayBloxham

    Many of the so-called routes granted to counties in this bill are simply faded two-tracks, cow paths or streambeds that run directly across federal public lands and fragment critical habitats, proposed wilderness, wilderness study areas, and even parts of the designated Cedar Mountain Wilderness (above). Photo copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA.

    In addition, the legislation disregards bedrock environmental laws including the National Environmental Policy Act, undermines the protection of proposed wilderness areas such as the Newfoundland Mountains, Deep Creek Mountains and Dugway Mountains, and facilitates a land exchange that would trade away wilderness-quality lands.

    Rep. Stewart’s proposed expansion is merely part of the broader effort by the State of Utah to seize our nation’s public lands. We need you to contact your member of Congress and expose this bill for what it is—a land grab shamelessly hiding under the guise of national security.

    Click here to take action now!

    Thank you.

     

  • Bridger Jack Mesa RS 2477 Claim (Ray Bloxham)
  • White Canyon. Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA.
    August 26th, 2015

    Recently, newspaper stories and rumors have swirled around both a potential national monument in San Juan County, Utah, and Rep. Rob Bishop’s Public Lands Initiative. Let me try and cut through the clutter to give you an idea where things currently stand.

    First, the monument. A historic coalition of Native-American Tribes and Pueblos have come together to call for a Bears Ears National Monument or National Conservation Area in Utah. This proposal, which we fully support, encompasses 1.9 million acres of dense cultural artifacts, stunning redrock canyons and plateaus, and high-elevation forests. The tribal coalition recently met at Bears Ears with officials from the departments of Interior and Agriculture to discuss their proposal.

    Second, the Public Lands Initiative. As you are likely aware, more than two years ago Rep. Rob Bishop announced his Public Lands Initiative as an effort to resolve public lands issues in Eastern Utah. We were impressed by Rep. Bishop’s willingness to undertake this difficult task and, in turn, we brought good faith and substantial resources to the table. We jumped into time-consuming discussions and dialogue with the Utah congressional delegation and the local counties.

    However, the dialogue and effort has not been uniform. San Juan County, for example, has opted for a process that excludes participation from anyone outside the county. Despite the fact that the Public Lands Initiative has been around for more than two years, only this month did the county commissioners finally put forward their proposal. As you might guess, for a county that has chosen to avoid “external” dialogue, the proposal is terrible.

    White Canyon. Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA.

    San Juan County leaves out deserving landscapes for protection (Hatch Point and White Canyon, above, to name a few of many), it asks for more land dedicated to energy development than it does for conservation, and it asks that the President’s authority to set aside national monuments be removed. In an act of pure chutzpah, it demands that Recapture Canyon be turned over to the county. Remember, current commissioner Phil Lyman was convicted of trespass and conspiracy for leading an illegal off-road vehicle ride down Recapture Canyon (which is closed to vehicle use in that part of the canyon).

    San Juan County ignored the requests of the tribal coalition that it propose meaningful protection for the Bears Ears proposal. Ironically, it even ignored the majority of its own county respondents who asked for protections in this area (opens in PDF). And no surprise, it ignored our proposal (see comparison below).

    SanJuan_Blog_Map_Aug18_2015

    This is where the national monument and PLI paths collide. In a move that would fail to surprise even the casual Utah political observer, the Utah governor and congressional delegation have recently opposed the designation of the Bears Ears National Monument. This opposition, though, is based on the potential for the Public Lands Initiative to resolve issues in San Juan County. Utah Governor Gary Herbert said that the Public Lands Initiative provides for “negotiation, compromise, and debate.” Unfortunately, those three factors have been completely absent from the discussion in San Juan County.

    It is worth reiterating that San Juan County completely excluded participation from anyone outside its boundaries. Allowing only 0.005 percent of the nation’s population to determine the future of our public lands (and, in reality, ignoring most of its citizens’ input at the same time) will not lead to a good outcome.

    We remain willing to engage in “negotiation, compromise, and debate.” It is the only way in which public lands issues will be fully resolved in San Juan County. We are anxiously awaiting details from Utah’s congressional delegation and governor as to how that will happen in San Juan County. Absent that, it is our fear that the Public Lands Initiative may become little more than an excuse to forestall a new national monument in Utah.

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