Land resolution passed
Colorado lawmakers are urging Congress to straighten out the confusion arising from right-of-way claims under Revised Statute 2477.
House Joint Resolution 1069 calls upon Congress to ratify legislation to more quickly resolve conflicts, include opportunity for public participation and increase protection for private landowners through Revised Statue 2477.
RS 2477 is a portion of an 1866 mining law that some counties have used to claim paths, trails or roads as public rights-of-way. Moffat County was the first in the state to draft an RS2477 resolution, which claimed more than 2,000 routes within the county’s borders as rights-of-way.
The recent resolution passed unanimously in the House. Sen. Jack Taylor of Steamboat Springs was one of two senators to cast opposition. Taylor was not available for comment Wednesday.
Vera Smith, conservation director of The Colorado Mountain Club, said the resolution sends a message to Congress that RS2477 is causing a lot of confusion about rights of private landowners. She said landowners have been taking people to court as misunderstanding mounts about private land versus county rights-of-way claims.
Environmentalists say RS 2477 has been interpreted by some counties as a valid reason to claim wash bottoms and little-used animal paths as rights-of-way.
“It’s the state telling Congress that this is a mess,” Smith said. “It’s good because it’s definitely going to get heard in D.C.”
Last summer, Colorado Coun–ties Inc. adopted a policy that recognizes the need for a legislative solution to RS2477. Moffat County is a member of CCI.
However, U.S. Rep. Mark Udall didn’t find much support last year among county commissioners across the state for a proposed bill granting Congress to power to dissolve disagreements stemming from RS 2477.
Reed Morris of the Colorado Wilderness Network said passage of the resolution shows support for “what is becoming a consensus in Colorado.”
“They are echoing the same points that there needs to be a process to support validity of claims,” he said. “This calls for standards, a place for public participation and higher standards for special places that are threatened by RS2477.”
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