After months of careful planning, U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and fellow congressmen introduced bipartisan federal legislation recently to preserve historic western U.S roads and pave the way for counties to maintain rights-of-way economically.
Sponsored by Gosar in collaboration with U.S. Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), Paul Cook (R-CA), Chris Stewart (R-UT) and Scott Tipton (R-CO), the Historic Routes Preservation Act would permit local districts to clarify precedence on public lands administratively rather than judicially, as currently practiced.
“Counties throughout the West shouldn’t have to spend precious resources on litigation in order to keep public roads open, especially when counties have been paying to maintain these roads for decades,” Gosar said. “This bill provides a commonsense solution that will maintain public access and prevent government bureaucrats from arbitrarily closing historic routes.”
The legislators crafted the bill to revise an outdated, 19th-century law dating back to 1866 regarding rights-of-way as overseen by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. As written, a county is required to file for right-of-way through the federal court system, a costly and time-consuming process.
“Sadly, after 39 years, many county records have been lost, old maps have been thrown away, and witnesses to the road’s presence and use prior to 1976 are passing on,” the bill stated in part. The Historic Routes Preservation Act would apply to existing roadways; it would not create new thoroughfares or allow changes without considering environmental factors.
122 North Cortez Street
Prescott, AZ 86301
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