Read the entire article at: http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_6890800BLM allows claim, hands road to Kane CountyIt marks the first time nationally such a road claim has been allowed under a BLM rule
By Patty Henetz
The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 09/14/2007 01:16:59 AM MDT
The long, contentious battle over who owns the backroads in rural Utah has taken a new twist.
The Bureau of Land Management is handing over a road to Kane County.
The agency's Tuesday announcement that it is turning ownership of a nine-mile strip known as the Bald Knoll Road over to the county marks the first time nationally that a road claim has been allowed under a BLM rule crafted to manage disputes after a landmark appeals-court ruling two years ago.
Kane County officials on Wednesday welcomed the option for the road, which will allow them to maintain it and make improvements. But the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) argued the BLM's so-called non-binding determination cuts the public out of the decision-making and sets a precedent that could affect wilderness-quality lands.
The dispute centers on Revised Statute 2477, a Civil War era mining law that granted rights of way across public land until it was repealed by Congress in 1976. When that happened, existing rights of way were grandfathered in.
The definition of "existing" was at the heart of a 2005 10th Circuit appeals court ruling that said the BLM must defer to state law when assessing counties' road ownership claims. Under Utah law, existing roads are those that had 10 years of continuous use and county maintenance before 1976. Continuous-use claims now must be decided road-by-road.....