RS2477 Important in Keeping Existing Roads Open


Well-Known Member

SAN BERNARDINO--In a move hailed by many property rights advocates throughout
the Western United States, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors on
September 18th adopted a resolution to assert pursuant to federal law that
the county and the public reserve the right to continue using the virtually
countless number of roads, trails and pathways that exist on public lands
throughout the nation's largest county.

The resolution, proposed by First District Supervisor Bill Postmus, asserts
rights-of-way under Revised Statute 2477, stating that public access should
be left open for travel for the same necessary purposes and uses that have
existed for many years.

"These routes have been essential for transportation, public access, and our
economic and social well-being," Postmus said. "Search and rescue, fire
protection, resource management, health and law enforcement personnel have
relied upon these routes."

In 1998, San Bernardino County adopted Resolution No. 98-149, identifying and
asserting rights-of-way under the statute within the Mojave National Preserve
and other areas. More recently, as the Bureau of Land Management, National
Park Service and U.S. Forest Service have been developing management plans,
these agencies have continued to propose closures for routes that have valid
R.S. 2477 rights-of-way.

R.S. 2477 was passed by Congress in 1866, granting rights-of-way for roads
and highways over public land that had not been reserved for public uses. In
this County, mostly in desert areas, numerous road rights-of-way were
acquired between 1866 and 1976, when the statute was repealed.

The statute was intended to promote the settlement of the Western United
States. When San Bernardino County was established in 1853, considerable
areas were used for ranching, farming, and mining, with intensive prospecting
and exploration for valuable minerals, forest and agricultural products. Much
of the mountains, desert and valley areas became laced with networks of wagon
roads, trails, and horse and footpaths, many of which are still in use for
economic, public safety and recreational purposes.

Following extensive field reviews to identify roads within and adjacent to
the Mojave Preserve and adjacent areas, the County notified the National Park
Service and the Bureau of Land Management of its assertions in 1998.

Postmus said the new resolution differs from the 1998 resolution in two
primary ways. First, it includes an unprecedented countywide blanket
assertion of access rights; and second, it memorializes these rights to the
National Forest Service in addition to the BLM and National Park Service.

The Supervisor said he received considerable support for the resolution. "I
have received several hundred letters, e-mails and phone calls in support of
this resolution," Postmus said. "Recent actions by the Federal Government to
restrict public access to our lands, most notably by the Bureau of Land
Management, are of great concern to a growing number of citizens."


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CORVA Field Rep - So. Cal.
(California Off Road Vehicle Association)
AMA Member