On June 6, 2003,
Colorado’s Governor secretly moved to obtain an agreement with
the Department of the Interior that could ease the granting of
right-of-ways to hiking trails and cow-paths through National Parks,
National Wildlife Refuges, and wilderness lands.
GOVERNOR OWENS’S ‘PAVE-THE-PARKS’
Gov. Bill Owens letter of April 22 to Gov. Mike Leavitt stating
that the State of Colorado doesn't want to be bound by the
Understanding reached between Utah and the Department of
Interior, presumably because that loophole-filled agreement is too
restrictive for Colorado.
Gov. Owens letter of April 22 to Secretary Norton, which is a
cover letter submitting the April 22 letter to Gov. Leavitt, and
seeking a “solution” to the RS 2477 issue in Colorado.
Department of Natural Resource Director Greg Walcher’s letter of May
15 to Secretary Norton, demanding that any deal between the
Interior Department and Colorado permit the State to claim
rights-of-way through National Parks, and demanding exemptions from
federal environmental permitting requirements when the State seeks
to turn hiking trails and cow-paths into 2-lane highways.
The Assistant Secretary of Interior responded to Gov. Owens's letter
stating on July 9 that the Department "looks forward ... to
develop[ing] an R.S. 2477 agreement ... for Colorado."
Now that his secret plan is out in the open, Gov.
Owens is promising a 'very public process' on rights-of-way. But he
refuses to commit to protect Colorado's national parks, national
monuments, national wildlife refuges, wilderness lands, or other
Read his August 12, 2003, response to one constituent in which
he fails to say he'll fight to protect Colorado's--and
America's--precious natural heritage.
What a difference a governor makes!
Read a September 19, 1994 then-Colorado Governor Roy Romer,
supporting a reasonable interpretation of the 1866 mining law.
In the letter, Gov. Romer expresses concern that proposed highways
under the law "not be allowed to single-handedly defeat the
designation of potential wilderness areas."
Governor Owens and DNR Director Walcher didn't bother
to consult with wildlife biologists in the state's Division of
Wildlife before pushing their plan that could pave valuable wildlife
habitat. See the
Denver Post article.
Read a June 27, 2003,
Grand Junction Sentinel editorial that calls for a public
process, not a backroom deal, to address RS 2477 claims in Colorado.
Denver Post editorial and the
Boulder Camera editorial criticizing Gov. Owens’ approach.
Joanne Ditmer column in the Denver Post
which concludes that
"the Owens-Walcher duo and others would pave over Paradise."
Kurt Kunkle op-ed from July 14, 2003, on his love affair with
Dinosaur National Monument--and what Gov. Owens’s plan means for the
Denver Post on September 17, 2003, criticized Gov. Owens for
placing destructive uses above wildlife protection, using his stance
on RS 2477 as an example.
Read a Denver
Post editorial of May 2, 2004, decrying abuse of RS 2477 and
supporting Rep. Mark Udall's pending legislation (see below).
Read a November 2004
article from Men's Journal listing Dinosaur National Monument as
a place of "Endangered Beauty" that should be visited before it
"vanishes" due in part to Moffat County's RS 2477 claims.
Rep. Mark Udall’s June 3 response to Director Walcher’s letter,
expressing “serious concerns” with Director Walcher’s approach.
June 16 letter from
Rep. Diana DeGette in which she labels the Governor's approach
to right-of-way claims in National Parks, National Monuments,
National Wildlife Refuges and proposed wilderness areas "a radical
construction that is clearly contrary to the broad support these
lands [including ] enjoy in Colorado and across the nation."
While Gov. Owens is pushing a state-wide solution to
RS 2477, the Colorado State Senate has other ideas. In March 2004,
it endorsed a resolution calling on Congress to craft a solution.
Read the resolution and
press about it.
In 2005, both the Colorado House and Senate adopted a
resolution seeking a national solution to the R.S. 2477 problem.
resolution and a
CITIZENS FIGHT TO PROTECT COLORADO’S
WHERE'S THE HIGHWAY?
Yampa River Canyon: Moffat County claims the
Yampa River canyon (above) for more than 20 miles as a 'constructed
highway.' County data gathered to support the assertion claims that
the right-of-way was "built by Indians" in the 1800s and that it was
used in winter to feed cattle when users of this alleged route "drove
on ice." Images (c) 2003, Colorado Environmental Coalition.