Delay again for R.S. 2477

  In a surprise move, the Interior Department extended its comment period a third time on R.S. 2477, a law adopted in 1866 to spur colonizing of the West. R.S. 2477 granted a right-of-way to rural counties for the construction of highways on public lands (HCN, 3/21/94). When Congress repealed the law in 1976, pre-existing claims of rural highways were grandfathered in, setting off a flurry of claim-staking by rural Western counties, particularly in Utah, which generated 5,000 of the 5,600 pending claims. Interior's draft regulations are intended to determine what exactly constitutes a "highway" and how to verify claims. Environmentalists have supported the Interior Department effort to narrow the definition of a right-of-way and block counties from claiming roads across essentially wild public land. To comment before Jan. 20, write Director, BLM, Room 5555, Main Interior Building, 1849 C St. N.W.,Washington, DC 20240.