Southern Utah News Articles
Top Stories for July 29, 2009
Judge Campbell clarifies 2008 Court Order concerning 'closed roads'
What seemed to be a new approach concerning the roads issue by the Kane County Commission in the past year not to maintain them; was met with a stern clarification of a previous May 2008 ruling by Judge Tena Campbell.
Interpretation of the ruling has everything to do with the story. Kane County saw it one way. They weren''t supposed to continue to maintain certain roads within the monument. But the BLM maintained that nothing had changed, and Kane County should continue doing the maintenance that they had historically done on the roads in the past...only not on any ''closed'' roads in the monument''s transportation plan.
At issue is the following from Judge Campbell''s May 16, 2008 order:
"Kane County shall not adopt ordinances, post signs, or otherwise purport to manage or open to vehicle use any route or area closed to such use by governing federal land management plan or federal law. Further, Kane County shall take no other action to invite or encourage vehicle use on any route or are closed to such use by governing federal land management plan or federal law. Kane County is enjoined from any action described above relating to any route unless and until Kane County proves in a court of law that it possesses a right-of-way to any such route and establishes the proper scope of such right-of-way in a court of law."
Judge Campbell''s recent clarification states: "The county misinterprets the court''s order and, in particular, takes the last sentence of the quoted paragraph out of context. The court said, ''Kane County is enjoined from any action described above relating to any route unless and until Kane County proves in a court of law that it possesses a right-of-way to any such route and establishes the proper scope of such right-of-way in a court of law.'' To the extent the language needs clarifying, the court emphasizes here that it has enjoined any county action that purports to manage or open to vehicle use any route or area closed to such use by governing federal land management plan o federal absent a court-validated right-of-way. That is, the court''s order only applies to actions that directly conflict with federal closures and federal limitations on modes and methods of transportation on routes within federal land."
The judge further wrote: "Given the county''s misinterpretation of the order, and for the reasons stated by the plaintiffs in their opposition to Kane County''s Motion for Stay of Injunction Pending Appeal, the County''s Motion for Stay of Injunction Pending Appeal is denied."
"The BLM is working with Kane County to address the public safety issues that have been raised by Kane County''s decision to stop signing and maintaining those portions of county roads that cross federal land," said BLM Utah State Director Selma Sierra. "BLM has repeatedly explained to Kane County that it does not agree with the county''s assertion that the county was "stripped" of its jurisdiction over the roads by a 2008 federal court decision and that the county therefore has no choice but to stop maintaining the roads. BLM has offered Kane County solutions to the road jurisdiction issues that are being successfully used in other counties across the state and throughout the West, but Kane County has so far refused the offer."
"BLM recognizes the importance of the roads to the citizens of Kane County and to the traveling public generally and will continue to work with Kane County and the state to find a mutually agreeable solution that will insure that the roads remain open and in good driving condition," said local BLM Public Information Officer Larry Crutchfield.
The question is what was the motivating factor for Kane County''s most recent stand in the past year on not maintaining open roads? Was it legal misinterpretation of Judge Campbell''s 2008 clarification of her order, or was it to make a point and generate more uninformed public outrage and support for their stand? That question could have been answered by the commission but was not. A July 20 call to their office was met with, "we have no comment."