On October 26, 2023, the office of Senator Mike Lee sent out a press release detailing his new proposed bill which would prevent certain Department of the Interior, and by extension Bureau of Land Management, action until R.S. 2477 adjudications can be completed.
The Bill, designated the Historic Roadways Protection Act, is designed to prevent the Department of the Interior from allocating funds to enact their resource and travel management plans until the current judicial actions over R.S. 2477 and the road jurisdictions it governs are resolved.
According to Lee’s press release, “Utah is home to some of the most strikingly beautiful landscapes in the United States. Much of the land is owned and managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) under the authorization of the Federal Lands Policy Management Act (FLPMA). The BLM is required by FLPMA to develop, maintain, and revise resource management plans (RMPs) and the associated travel management plans (TMPs) periodically to ensure ongoing effective land management strategy … 22 counties in Utah filed lawsuits claiming title to R.S. 2477 ROWs to ensure these roads stay open for public use and cannot be closed by new TMPs. However, there are over 12,500 ROW claims to process. The Federal District Court for Utah ordered the adjudication of 15 roads in Kane County in 2020 to set the precedent for the remaining cases, and the State is awaiting final decisions. Until the right-of-way status of thousands of miles of R.S. 2477 roads can be determined, the BLM should not be able to implement or revise travel management plans that close R.S. 2477 roads it may have no jurisdiction over.”
The bill cites specific travel and resource management plans for which it forbids financial finalization and implementation. According to the bill, the roads in question were ordered for adjudication by the Federal District Court for Utah in 2020 and are still awaiting the conclusion of that adjudication - included among these cases is Kane County’s case 2:12-cv-1073-CW.
The bill is in its initial stages, and will begin the process of working its way through the Senate and House in upcoming sessions. According to the press release, individuals looking for more information or to be added as co-sponsor can email Sam_Crofts@lee.senate.gov .