HJR 60: Relating to Revised Statute 2477 rights-of-way.

00HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 60 01 Relating to Revised Statute 2477 rights-of-way. 02 BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA: 03 WHEREAS Revised Statute 2477 (RS 2477) provided, "the right-of-way for the 04 construction of highways over public lands, not reserved for public uses, is hereby granted"; 05 and 06 WHEREAS the Congress repealed RS 2477 in 1976 in the Federal Land Policy and 07 Management Act, but the Act expressly reserved existing rights-of-way created under RS 08 2477; and 09 WHEREAS the Alaska State Legislature funded a $1,200,000 project conducted by 10 the Alaska Department of Natural Resources to document the RS 2477 rights-of-way in 11 Alaska; and 12 WHEREAS the project found more than 560 routes that qualified as RS 2477 rights- 13 of-way; and 14 WHEREAS RS 2477 rights-of-way resulted from the public's use of routes for travel

01 between settlements and to access mineralized areas in Alaska from the late 1800's until 1968; 02 and 03 WHEREAS it is in the best interests of Alaska to preserve this historical and 04 traditional rural transportation system because these routes form the transportation network for 05 surface travel between rural settlements and access to mineralized areas and because the routes 06 create significant entrepreneurial, recreational, and tourism opportunities for our citizens; and 07 WHEREAS the State of Alaska is committed to a balanced philosophy of the 08 development and wise use of Alaska's scenic beauty, mineral wealth, wildlife, and other 09 natural resources coupled with environmental protection to ensure that future generations will 10 experience Alaska as it is known by present generations of Alaskans; and 11 WHEREAS the surface transportation system in Alaska is inadequate to address the 12 needs of our state; and 13 WHEREAS the United States Department of the Interior adopted regulations in 1938 14 interpreting RS 2477 stating that RS 2477 is "effective upon the construction or establishing 15 of highways, in accordance with State laws, over public lands not reserved for public uses"; 16 and 17 WHEREAS the interpretation of RS 2477 by the United States Department of the 18 Interior remained unchanged until the repeal of the statute when the regulations were also 19 repealed; and 20 WHEREAS federal and state courts have consistently ruled for 100 years that it was 21 the intent of the Congress in enacting RS 2477 that the law of the state where the RS 2477 22 right-of-way is located defines the acts that constitute acceptance and the scope of the right-of- 23 way; and 24 WHEREAS the United States Department of the Interior is attempting to 25 administratively rescind the long-standing and widely accepted interpretation of RS 2477 by 26 adopting regulations restrictively defining key statutory terms contrary to the intent of the 27 Congress and virtually eliminating all RS 2477 rights-of-way in Alaska; and 28 WHEREAS S. 1425 has been introduced in the United States Senate by Senator Frank 29 Murkowski and Senator Ted Stevens, and H.R. 2081 has been introduced in the United States 30 House of Representatives to preserve the long-standing judicial and executive interpretation 31 of RS 2477 and to protect the existence of rights-of-way previously granted by the federal

01 government under RS 2477; 02 BE IT RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature endorses the efforts of the 03 Alaska delegation in Congress to preserve and protect the original meaning of Revised Statute 04 2477 to enable this generation and future generations of Alaskans to use the routes established 05 by pioneer Alaskans; and be it 06 FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature respectfully requests the 07 members of the Alaska delegation in Congress to ensure that federal law recognizes the 08 controlling nature of state law in regard to the construction and establishment of RS 2477 09 rights-of-way, as recognized by 100 years of judicial decision and by 38 years of Department 10 of the Interior regulation by enacting such a provision into federal statutes; and be it 11 FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature respectfully requests that 12 the Congress include a reasonable period and a reasonable process for the assertion, 13 recognition, and determination of the existence of RS 2477 rights-of-way as part of legislation 14 addressing RS 2477 rights-of-way. 15 COPIES of this resolution shall be sent to the Honorable Ted Stevens and the 16 Honorable Frank Murkowski, U.S. Senators, and the Honorable Don Young, U.S. 17 Representative, members of the Alaska delegation in Congress.