Just over a year ago when we were in Arizona for the GPAA gold show we were contacted by some miners who told us the BLM was closing hundreds of thousands of acres of roads. These were roads off-roaders, miners, hikers, hunters and others used to access their public lands.
Uniting everyone against that proposal worked and they did not close the roads. Fast forward to today and now it is the USFS proposing sweeping closures to the Tonto NF NE of Prescott. Once again we must all unite to stop this and we’ll be explaining how the public can join hands and fight these types of proposed closures. We are working with an off-road adventure group and coordinating with the mining community in Arizona to fight this.
It is important one knows about Arizona and how the state has recognized RS2477. First of all, RS2477 (revised statute 2477) is a part of the original 1872 mining grant. In a nutshell, it states the roads and travel routes must remain open for exploration, mining and public land usage. In 1976, Congress passed FLPMA, the Federal Lands Policy Management Act and claim they now can close all the roads willy-nilly at their discretion. Well, not so fast BLM and USFS. Under 2477, they cannot close any roads which predate 1976. If it is a road “created” after 1976, they can, prior to that, no they can’t, it’s really that simple.
Just three years ago, Utah took this issue all the way to their Supreme Court and the court ruled unanimously that RS2477 is valid and their roads must remain open and accessible for public use and for mining.
So back to Arizona and our research last year…….. On a whim, I typed in “Arizona RS2477” just to see if there was anything out there Arizona had done on keeping the roads open to the mining community and the public at large.
What we found is, like Utah, the Arizona Congress and politic body decided to protect their roads that the public uses and took it a step further than Utah did. They passed a bill telling the Federal Government they cannot close roads under RS2477. So in clear language, Arizona told the United States government, any roads in the state which predate 1976, they will not allow the Federal Government under FLPMA to close them period. End of story
Arizona House Bill 2175 passed in April of 2015 and signed by Arizona’s Governor states just that. Gotta love Arizona and these politicians who told the Federal Government if you aren’t going to recognize RS2477, we will and will not allow you to close our roads. (link below)
There is also another part to fighting this and we’ll explore and post about that shortly. Right now it is time to investigate where this closure originated and who’s behind it.
Here is the current closure proposal from Arizona Backcountry Explorers: