KANE COUNTY RESOLUTION NO. R-2017-10
A RESOLUTION TO SAVE ACCESS TO THE PARIA CANYON
WHEREAS, commencing in 1865 Mormon settlers lead by Peter Shirts established communities in the Rockhouse area and then the Pahreah townsite by traveling the Paria River road. The Pahreah townsite grew to include l 30 inhabitants, public facilities and a church.
Floods later washed away crop lands over the years and resulted in the last residents leaving the area in the l 930s, however, the Pahreah cemetery remains as a respectful reminder of these early pioneers. The stories of Peter Shirts and his "pull the plow" share cropping efforts with the Native American Indians is a great reminder of the human element in the history of these lands; and
WHEREAS, by l873 the Paria River road was established as the main public thoroughfare for
travel between Salt Lake City Utah, and Lee's Ferry, Arizona, which is well documented by
John D. Lee and numerous history books; and
WHEREAS, the Paria River road through the Paria Canyon was continuously used as a public thoroughfare for 140 years until 2009 when it was summarily closed; and
WHEREAS, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) and The Wilderness Society (TWS) sued Kane County and obtained a federal court injunction finding that Kane County could not own an R.S. 2477 right-of-way for any road, like the Paria River road, unless and until its title was adjudicated in court. A Bureau of Land Management (BLM) legal advisor stated his agree ment with the finding, and SUWA and TWS then prevailed upon BLM to barricade and physically close the Paria River road in 2009; and
WHEREAS, Kane County later prevailed in the legal proceedings and reversed the adverse decision. However, BLM's physical closure of the Paria River road remains; and
WHEREAS, Kane County would like to make a statement of their appreciation for the local BLM office. The local BLM office, at the time, was assisting with responsible use and enjoyment of the area and was not working to close the road. The directive was issued to them from higher offices within the department. Local BLM officials were excluded from the decision making that affected our area; and
WHEREAS, the Paria River road closure was done without consideration of the road's purpose, rights, local economies, customs, culture and heritage; and
WHEREAS, for nine years, this closure has negatively impacted the tourism in Kane County as the Paria River road was a well-known popular recreation area and route to trail heads; and
WHEREAS, the Paria River road provided access to several hiking trailheads such as Deer Creek and the confluence of Bull Valley Gorge, Rock Springs Creek, Starlight Canyon, and Snake Creek; and
WHEREAS, many historical pioneer markers of the Paria River road are being lost from our heritage and historical interpretation since they are no longer accessible; and
WHEREAS, Kane County R.S. 2477 litigation is pending on this road. Litigation strategies by the Department of the Interior and the Department of Justice, now coordinated with SUWA, serve to delay the court proceedings. These delays are prejudicial to Kane County through the loss of evidence and increased expense; and
WHEREAS, precedent set with the Kane County Bald Knoll R.S. 2477 litigation clearly demonstrates the county's ability to quiet title to its R.S. 2477 roads. The evidence supporting the Paria River road is overwhelmingly documented across 140 years and indisputably establishes that this road served as a public thoroughfare for more than ten years prior to 1976; and
WHEREAS, the extended closure of this road and flood activities will result in a higher maintenance burden for reopening; and
WHEREAS, the traveled surface of the road is being destroyed by non-use making on-sight evaluations by the court difficult to accurately obtain; and
WHEREAS, over 140 years of road use presented no negative impacts to the area and was clearly one of the least impactful items in the drainage, given the severe floods and other natural occurring activities; and
WHEREAS, the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument management plan states: "TRAN-8 In the event that Title 5 rights-of-way are issued, or in the event of legal decisions on RS 2477 assertions, maintenance activities will be governed under the terms of those actions"; and
WHEREAS, the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Proclamation states: "The establishment of this monument is subject to valid existing rights." This sentence reflects the President's intention to honor rights that existed prior to the establishment of the Monument. Before it was established, the lands within GSENM were subject to various authorizations, some giving "'rights" to the holders and some of which could be construed as providing valid, but lesser, interests. Valid existing rights (VERs) are those rights in existence within the boundaries of GSENM when the Monument was established on September 18, 1996."
Kane County established its R.S. 2477 rights with over l 00 years of public use under the revised statute 2477 of 1866 which ended with the with the creation of the Federal Lands Policy and
Management Act of 1976. Therefore, these rights were clearly established prior to the creation
of the GSENM and are therefore valid and existing rights.
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE, KANE COUNTY BOARD OF
COM M ISSI ONERS, I N AND FOR KANE COUNTY, STATE OF UT AH, AS FOLLOWS:
Kane County respectfully requests that the road closed signs. physical harriers. and any other physical obstruction to access on the Paria River Road. Kane County Road Number K6200. be removed by the BI.M while pending litigation continues.
Kane County urges the Bl.M/Department of the Interior to move forward with removing any legal restrictions of access of the Paria River Road. Kane Count) Road Number K6200. and
requests that whatever procedures need to be accomplished to achieve this result are taken with haste.
Additional RS24 77 Background reference:
Board of Commissioners Kane County
R.S. 2477 granted valid and respected rights-of-way to counties by its general wording: "The right-of-way for the construction of highways over public lands not reserved for public uses. Is hereby granted”.
Although FLPMA repealed Revised Statue 2477 it did not terminate rights-of-way conveyed under R.S. 2477. Section 701 of FLPMA states that nothing Shall be construed as terminating any valid lease, patent or right-of-way or other land use authorization on the date of approval of this act. For a route to be a R.S. 2477 right-of-way it must have existed before the passage of FLPMA. (October 21, 1976).