MIXED-BLOODS-L ArchivesArchiver > MIXED-BLOODS > 2002-04 > 1019582929
Subject: [MIXED-BLOODS] LAND
Date: Tue, 23 Apr 2002 13:28:49 EDT
From: WAZI NAGI
White House Proposing Giveaway of Your Public Lands
Do you want your public lands given away to special interests for
unfettered development? If not, read this and send in an official comment
today! The deadline for receiving comments is Tuesday April 23, so act
now! Go to http://www.capwiz.com/awc/issues/alert/?alertid=139138 to send
an email protesting this proposal.
The Bush Administration has quietly proposed changes to an obscure federal
regulation that would allow states and special interests to claim title to
and build roads across millions of acres of the nation's most spectacular
wild places. If successful, the proposal could pave the way for the
federal government to give states and special interests title to thousands
of miles of trails, tracks and dirt roads in places like Canyonlands
National Park in Utah, the Great Alaska Wilderness, and Death Valley
National Park in California. Send an email to the Administration today to
help protect America's wild places.
The proposal comes as the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) is engaged in
secret, closed-door negotiations with the State of Utah over the right to
build roads in national parks and wilderness areas. DOI is attempting to
circumvent a June 2001 court decision which blocks Utah's over-zealous
efforts to have cowpaths and abandoned trails declared "highways." If
approved, this proposal would grease the way for the Administration to
grant the state control over thousands of right of way claims without any
public involvement or say.
Road building in fragile forests, wetlands, deserts, and other backcountry
areas causes enormous damage in and of itself, especially when there are
no environmental safeguards or public input. Yet, the problem doesn't stop
there. Granting thousands of right of way claims could effectively
disqualify these special places for wilderness protection, and open them
up to oil and gas drilling, mining, logging, and damage caused by rampant
off-road vehicle use.
The Bush Administration proposal is based on a mining law originally
passed in 1866 (and long since repealed) that allowed special interests to
make claims to rights of way on lands owned by the American public.
Mining, off-road vehicle, and other anti-wilderness groups have long
touted this statute - called RS 2477 - as a way of defeating proposals for
wilderness and parks. Thousands upon thousands of these claims have been
made - 10,000 in Utah alone.
These wilderness-destroying claims are a burgeoning trend throughout the
The Mojave National Preserve and Death Valley National Park in California
recently received a letter from local counties alleging over 2,300 miles
of RS 2477 routes in the Preserve and Park.
Under the Alaska Supreme Court's incredibly broad standard for RS 2477
claims, every section line in the State could qualify as an RS 2477
right-of-way, criss-crossing the State with over one million miles of
claims. These alleged claims would threaten Alaska's most treasured
National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, National Forests and designated
Several counties in Montana, Idaho & Oregon have asserted claims to every
road on the national forest lands within the county boundaries. Taxpayers
pay for all of these unnecessary "roads." A 1993 Department of Interior
study found that costs relating to just the investigations of these
ill-founded claims run $1 million to $5 million each.
Many claims of rights-of-way for "highways" across public lands are not
valid claims, but are cynical attempts to thwart wilderness protection or
otherwise break up public wild lands. BLM should not be validating these
bogus claims through the expedited process allowed under the proposed
rule. The BLM should, instead, apply a rigorous determination process for
validating each claim to rights-of-way across public lands.
Western states like Utah and Alaska still have a lot of undeveloped public
land. There's a move afoot that will change this irreversibly. If you
think there's been enough development of the public lands check this out
and send a comment. Enough folks speaking out might protect these lands as
Act now! Go to http://www.capwiz.com/awc/issues/alert/?alertid=139138 to
send an email protesting this proposal.
Melyssa Watson, Chair
American Wilderness Coalition
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