Presentation on preservation of historic routes for public land access

April 22, 2014

GARFIELD COUNTY, CO – Garfield County will host a presentation for the community on use of historic road routes and rights-of-way on public lands May 1. County Attorney Frank Hutfless has proposed a federal act to require federal administrative action on claims for access and to establish deadlines and mandatory procedures for settling right-of-way claims. On April 7 the Garfield County Board of County Commissioners enacted a resolution in support of this proposed act.

“We are concerned with public land road access because it impacts citizen uses for ranching, recreation, emergency access and access to natural resources” said Garfield County Commission Chair John Martin. “The resolution supports this act because the rights-of-way granted by Congress are important to the public health, safety and welfare of our residents.”

Hutfless will share a presentation on the proposed act with Garfield County citizens on Thursday, May 1, at 10 a.m. at the Garfield County Administration Building at 108 8th Street, Glenwood Springs.

Board of Commissioners Chair John Martin joined Hutfless in presenting the proposed federal act to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior and the National Association of Counties in early March. The act would serve to preserve thousands of miles of rights-of-way for public used throughout the United States, including hundreds of miles in Garfield County.

Revised statute R.S. 2477 stems from the Mining Act of 1866, which granted right-of-way over public lands. R.S. 2477 was repealed by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) of 1976. Due to the passage of FLPMA, access has been restricted for many uses and therefore has been contested regularly. Following its establishment, the legislature determined that settling claims would take an Act of Congress. Due to this, claimants have turned to courts and costly litigation has been required to settle the challenges, which has resulted in inconsistencies in the interpretation of the act. The legislation proposed by Hutfless will establish a procedure for resolving claims to rights-of-way.

This proposed legislation can be found at