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Realty & Natural Resources
Alaska Region   

Refuge Rights-of-Way & Easements

R.S. 2477 (Revised Statutes Section 2477)

Section 2477 of the Revised Statutes (R.S. 2477) emerged from Section 8 of the Mining Act of 1866, in order to promote public highway construction through the largely unsettled western territories. This section provided:

That the right of way for the construction of highways over public lands, not reserved for public uses, is hereby granted.

R.S. 2477 was repealed on October 21, 1976 by the Federal Land and Policy and Management Act (FLPMA). 43 U.S.C. § 932. Because FLPMA did not terminate valid existing rights-of-way, the existence and extent of many R.S. 2477 claims remains an issue.

According to Federal policy, to establish a valid R.S. 2477 claim, the claimant must provide evidence that prior to the repeal of R.S. 2477 on October 21, 1976 that:

  1. Construction on the right-of-way occurred;
  2. The right-of-way constituted a highway and was used as a thoroughfare by the public for the passage of vehicles carrying people or goods from place to place; and
  3. The lands over the right-of-way were not withdrawn, reserved or otherwise made unavailable for a R.S. 2477 claim.

Under a validated R.S. 2477 claim, the Federal government retains ownership of the land subject to the State’s public highway right-of-way.

Last updated: August 26, 2008

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