When Congress reconvenes after Labor Day, the House is expected to mark up a new bill that could allow states and counties to bulldoze roads across national parks and wilderness areas.
The legislation, introduced July 20 by
Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, attempts to preserve rural rights-of-way
that might not be recognized under recently proposed Interior
Department regulations. Hansen says Interior's proposal would
threaten local control of existing roads and "close up access in
the rural West." Under the "Revised Statutes 2477 Rights-of-Way
Settlement Act" (H.R. 2081), almost any visible road or path could
be considered eligible for right-of-way designation and expansion -
even footpaths or dogsled routes.
will be a web of expanded, paved and unneeded roads permanently
scarring landscapes across our national parks and public lands and
creating a management nightmare," says Elizabeth Fayad, Counsel for
the National Parks and Conservation Association (NPCA). Hansen's
bill would apply to "pre-existing" claims granted under an 1866
statute and would supercede an environmental review process
mandated by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976
(HCN, 3/21/94). According to NPCA, Utah alone has more than 5,000
potential right-of-way claims across public land.