Usettling Forest Service settlement

The continuing judicial story of the South Canyon Road on the Jarbridge River (where the first battle was fought with shovels).

Legal arguments center on an 1866 law that established so-called RS 2477 roads by granting states and counties the right of way to build highways on federal lands…  The government denies such a right of way exists. But under political pressure, the Forest Service signed a settlement agreement in 2003 with assurances it no longer would challenge the county’s claim.

The Wilderness Society and Great Old Broads for Wilderness sued to block the deal, saying U.S. officials lacked the authority to cede control of the road and shirked their responsibility to protect the bull trout. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed and tossed the agreement out in 2005, before the agency signed a similar deal in 2011 and conservationists sued again.

 

2 Comments

  1. It makes me wonder what the circumstances are in this particular case that make the USFS so ready to settle? I wrote briefs on a couple of RS 2477 challenges in MT while interning with R1 OGC in Missoula. There were certainly no indications of settlement in those cases. Do you have any more particulars Jon?

  2. Only what I read (that’s past tense) in the papers. My opinion about the ‘political pressure’ is that this is another Clive Bundy story where locals threaten the federal government and get away with it (and I don’t understand why the federal government thinks a little anarchy is ok). This article gives a pretty good flavor of the situation (including rejection of a previously negotiated settlement that would have been legal): http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2001/01/shovel-rebellion

    **”In Elko County, the anti-federal attitude comes from the top. Two years ago, the district attorney drafted a public service announcement advocating discrimination against Forest Service employees. “This message is brought to you by the Elko County Commission, who encourages you to let the Forest Service know what you think about this by not cooperating with them,” the draft read. “Don’t sell goods or services to them until they come to their senses.” The commission did not act on the district attorney’s advice, but hostilities became so great that Gloria Flora, supervisor of the Humboldt-Toiyabe, resigned from her job in 1999, saying she feared for the safety of her employees (see “Hellraiser,” March/April 2000).”**

    It’s maybe a one of as far as RS 2477 challenges go, though I remember that North Dakota politicians were circling the FS on this issue a few years ago (and as they say, “Elections matter”).

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