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Old 08-15-2012, 09:50 AM   #1 (permalink)
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USFS - Wallowa-Whitman Granting RS2477

Travel Management Plan Discussion Paper—Draft: 8.3.12

RS 2477 Right-of-Ways

What Is the Concern?

Some people are concerned that the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest may not designate all RS 2477 roads for motorized access. An RS 2477 right-of-way is a public highway on National Forest System land that is maintained
by state or local governments and/or their public road agencies.

The portion of the highway that is on National Forest System land is subject to Forest Service regulation.

How Will This Concern Be Addressed?

All recognized RS 2477 right-of-ways on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest remain open and unaffected by the proposed travel management plan.

The Forest Service can recognize only valid and existing RS 2477 right-of-ways that have been perfected in a federal court. Only state and local government and their public road agencies can make RS 2477 assertions on National Forest System land. Individuals cannot make RS 2477 assertions on National Forest System land. If a state or local government has a compelling case that they own and are maintaining a road where a RS 2477 right-of-way may exist, the Forest Service will work with them to perfect
legitimate RS 2477 claims through the federal courts.

Several criteria must be met for a road to be legally determined an RS 2477 right-of-way:

• The land on which the road was constructed was open public domain, not reserved for a national forest at the time of construction. On the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, this means a road must have been constructed prior to 1905.

• The road must have been continuously used and maintained as a public highway since its creation. Management of routes whether they are a RS 2477 roads or other right-of-ways will help to ensure public safety,
environmental health, and recreational opportunities.

Are There Exceptions or Options?

The Forest Service will work with state or local governments if these entities feel they have a valid claim for an RS 2477 right-of-way that should be legally recognized.

Your Comments Are Appreciated


The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest will be hosting several community workshops to discuss the specific issues raised by the public regarding the proposed travel management plan. Please check for notices of the public meetings at http://www.fs.usda/wallowa-whitman/.
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Old 08-16-2012, 02:49 PM   #2 (permalink)
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While the WW NF says they will not close any "recognized" RS2477 routes, this is a deliberately misleading distraction. There are NO "recognized" RS2477 routes UNLESS the state or county makes an assertion and then files a lawsuit and PROVES their assertion in court. Very few small rural counties have the funds to take each of these routes to court to prove their assertion. They say they will WORK with the counties, they did NOT say they would recognize those assertions.

Now, if they are sincere, it is entirely in their authority to designate "Open" any routes the county says meet the 2477 criteria, without forcing the county to spend alot of money in court. This would not be a binding designation, as it could be closed in the future, but it would answer the "good faith" question right now.
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Old 08-16-2012, 03:59 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrailGuru View Post
While the WW NF says they will not close any "recognized" RS2477 routes, this is a deliberately misleading distraction. There are NO "recognized" RS2477 routes UNLESS the state or county makes an assertion and then files a lawsuit and PROVES their assertion in court. Very few small rural counties have the funds to take each of these routes to court to prove their assertion. They say they will WORK with the counties, they did NOT say they would recognize those assertions.

Now, if they are sincere, it is entirely in their authority to designate "Open" any routes the county says meet the 2477 criteria, without forcing the county to spend alot of money in court. This would not be a binding designation, as it could be closed in the future, but it would answer the "good faith" question right now.

Nice to see you here - I'm a long time Fan

Edit - I knew it was too good to be true, it completely goes against their previous direction.
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Last edited by Bebe; 08-16-2012 at 04:00 PM.
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Old 08-16-2012, 05:17 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Bebe
Thanks for the kind words.

The illusion of this plan being "RS2477 Friendly" becomes more clear when you read the "qualifying language" they add in about it being required to be "continuously used and MAINTAINED". As you know, most routes that folks try to assert RS2477 claims on receive little or no maintenance, and usually are not on the counlist of maintained routes. This is a FS (& BLM) policy decision, as RS2477 has no such qualifiers in law. What was a "public highway" in 1872 bears no resemblanceto what we think of as a highway today Both the FS and BLM have never budged before about recognizing an assertion without it being adjudicated first. This has been their position for close to 20 years at least.

The WW NF is under tremendous local political pressure about their Travel Management Plan process. They had proposed massive closures in their first draft, and had to withdraw it because the outcry was so strong from the public and local elected officials.
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