June 19, 2008

Kane County loses sign request

by Pamela Manson

The Salt Lake Tribune

Kane County has until Monday to take down 39 road signs it placed in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in a struggle over ownership of the federal land.

The county's request to allow the signs to remain while it appeals an order mandating their removal was rejected twice in less than a week - first on Friday by U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell in Salt Lake City and then Wednesday by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

Campbell ruled May 16 that the placement of county road signs in the monument is unconstitutional.

That decision capped a five-year fight between conservation groups and Kane County, whose signs claimed the roads as a county right of way and essentially invited off-road traffic on trails in protected areas of the monument.

The county claimed the roads under RS 2477, a Civil War-era mining law that granted rights of way across public land. The law was repealed in 1976 but existing claims were grandfathered in, leading to numerous disputes.