Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
The Salt Creek/Horse Canyon road in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park flooded Oct. 5, 2011. Photo courtesy Canyonlands National Park
Editorial: State trapped on faux roads and hoax highways

Utah should give up road claims.

First Published Apr 29 2014 05:02 pm • Last Updated Apr 29 2014 05:02 pm

The devotion of the state of Utah and some of its local governments to the cause of having every cowpath, creek bottom and wheel rut in the state declared a public highway is not only an embarrassment but an expense that the taxpayers of this state should no longer be burdened with.

The most recent in what promises to be a series of judicial defeats, unless someone in Utah government wakes up and gives up, came late Friday. That’s when judges of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a long hog wallow within Canyonlands National Park is not, as the state and San Juan County claimed, the kind of public right of way that the National Park Service should not be allowed to close.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

The Park Service, quite rightly and legally, did close the 12-mile path to Angel Arch way back in 1998, and state and county officials have been pitching a childish fit ever since. A fit that state and county taxpayers — even those with the eyes to see that a creek bed is not a highway — have forked over millions of dollars to support.

It would be time to say, one down, 13,999 to go — that being the rough number of faux roads and hoax highways the state is claiming. Or it would be, if Utah officials would read the writing on this wall and give up this entire absurd crusade altogether. Which they aren’t, as officials plan to appeal this adverse ruling, adding insult to injury for the state’s wild lands and its taxpayers alike.

The claims are being made under the color of a long-repealed federal law called R.S. 2477. That statute was aimed at encouraging the development of the arid and sparsely populated West by granting practically unlimited recognition to the creation on any road that might be built across federal land.

In 1976, when Congress thought better of the matter and repealed R.S. 2477, roads then in existence were supposed to be grandfathered in — if, that is, they really were roads.

Thus efforts by state and local officials to claim so many such rights of way, mostly for the purpose of making it easier for those public lands to be developed, despoiled and robbed of their worthiness for wilderness designation.

If our elected officials stick with this delusional campaign, it threatens to make their other losing legal pursuits — e.g., their defense of the state’s Amendment 3, banning same-sex marriage in Utah — look small and cheap in comparison.

But, because such anti-federal windmill-tilting goes over so well with the Republican base, there seems to be no end to this muddy road.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.