RS2477 And the National Parks
That post generated a lot of debate over the propriety of a road in that rugged canyon. Those who filed the lawsuit claimed they had a right to the road thanks to a Civil War-era statute known as R.S. 2477.
Well, Death Valley isn't the only park that could suffer from this statute.
For instance, did you know that in Bryce Canyon National Park the Kane County Commission claims that portions of the Under-the-Rim backcountry trail and the Riggs Spring hiking trail are open to dirt bikes and other off-road vehicles courtesy of the statute?
Over in Zion National Park, Washington County officials say five miles of the East Rim foot and horse trail is a "constructed highway" that should be open to motorized use. And in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Kane County is trying to claim hundreds of miles of river corridors and desert footpaths as motorized vehicle routes.
When Congress passed R.S. 2477 as part of the 1866 Mining Law, the measure was intended to help open up the West by granting access across public lands. However, today there are those in the motorized recreation crowd trying to twist the statute by claiming access to hiking trails and footpaths in the parks and elsewhere on public lands.
There are plenty of places on America's public lands for motorized recreation, so many that there's no need to open up hiking trails in national parks to these vehicles.