New rules proposed by the Interior Department limit the ability of states and counties to build highways across public lands. The rules clarify Revised Statute 2477, an 1866 law that granted rights-of-way on federal lands (HCN, 3/21/94). The law was repealed 18 years ago but it did not nullify any earlier rights-of-way. Since then, some state and local officials in the West have claimed the right to turn thousands of dirt roads into modern highways. Environmentalists say many claims are simply a means to block new wilderness or road closures benefiting endangered species. Under the new regulations, governments making a claim must prove they attempted to construct a durable, permanent road for vehicles. If enacted, state and local governments would have only two more years to file claims.
copy of the regulations or to comment until Sept. 30, contact Tom
Gorey, BLM Public Affairs, 1849 C St., NW, Room 5600, Washington,
DC 20240 (202/208-5717).