The RS2477 Threat

Lands at Risk

Threats to
Private Property



Act Now!




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The Siskiyou Wilderness –- one of America’s oldest designated wilderness areas –-is threatened by a bogus claimed ‘highway’ to a private land inholding. Get background on the threat from the Siskiyou Project. When the owner of the inholding demanded motor vehicle access to the 40-year-old wilderness area, the Forest Service balked, and the land-owner went to federal court claiming an RS 2477 right-of-way. But a judge’s magistrate didn’t buy it, finding the owner of the inholding waited too long to press his case. See the magistrate’s January 2005 “findings and recommendations."

Grant County, Oregon, is in the process of hiring what it is calling a “Road Historian” to help it and the Forest Service inventory and determine the status and history of roads in the county as part of an effort to determine which, if any, of the roads fall under RS 2477. The Blue Mountain Eagle of John Day, Oregon, reports on a recent affair (the county’s annual Road Kill Chili Feed), where a local county judge, Dennis Reynolds, outlined the historian-hiring process.

"The U.S. Forest Service is not a road authority. The County Court is. We took an oath to protect the rights of the people," Reynolds explained in a prelude to the reasoning behind the road historian position. He said that the county needed to inventory and identify the county roads to aid the planning of the road maintenance program and to gather data for the roadmaster. He elaborated that the county already spent $60,000 for someone to read all the court documents relating to the history of the roads, but the court needs to research the roads through the present day to establish whether or not they are eligible to be declared public rights-of-way, legally still in use.

Most of the questions posed to Reynolds involved maintenance and specific or private roads. "It gets complicated,” he explained.

The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, in northeast Oregon, is 2.3 million acres managed by the National Forest Service. The Travel Management Plan Committee for the Forest extended the comment period related its road inventory process by offering a public meeting Monday, October 15. The Committee proposes to close up to 30% of previously maintained roads and will likely hear more outcry from Baker County residents and officials who claim a right to the roads for their ORVs and recreational use. Read an October 9, 2007 article in The Baker City Herald.


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