Congress Takes Action on Protecting Historical County Roads and Right of Ways

Lake Havasu City, AZ – Congressman Paul Cook from California’s 8th Congressional District introduced HR 4313, the Historic Routes Preservation Act. This bipartisan bill provides an administrative means for the federal government to confirm rights-of-way on public lands administered by the Departments of Interior and Agriculture.  “This bill has been a long time coming and has taken countless hours of work by our Lobbyist Robert Weidner and Gerry Hiller, the Executive Director of QuadState Local Governments Authority,” Supervisor Buster Johnson stated. “Robert Weidner and Gerry Hiller did the heavy lifting in DC meeting with Congressional staff and legislators to explain and garner support,” Johnson continued.

 

Supervisor Buster Johnson was instrumental in advocating a bill introduced yesterday in Congress to protect Mohave County’s historic roads and rights of way across federal lands in the county and public lands throughout the west.   For years counties, like Mohave, have owned and maintained roads across federal lands only to find out recently that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) maps do not reflect County ownership, control or maintenance.   Amazingly, BLM Master Title Plats do not reflect the existence of Route 66, one of America’s treasured landmarks.  Supervisor Johnson decided to recommend legislation to include process changes in public lands management which were picked up by our friend across the Colorado River, California Congressman Paul Cook (R) who represents the California Desert Counties.

 

At home, Johnson was key in answering questions raised by Arizona’s Ann Kirkpatrick as she considered whether to be the lead Democrat promoting the bill in Congress.  “I was happy to advocate this proposal to Congresswoman Kirkpatrick and her staff and urge that she sign on to the bill on behalf of counties across Arizona, and I am pleased that what I told her helped resolve her questions,” Johnson explained   “As a bipartisan bill, the measure has a much better chance of receiving fair consideration from both sides in Congress,” Johnson added.

 

According to Johnson, HR 4313 creates no mandatory financial obligation for counties.  “Counties will have the option to voluntarily use this piece of legislation to benefit them or not,” Johnson stated.  “For those who do take advantage of this legislation, the burden of proof to have a right-of-way recognized under this bill will be with the governmental unit that files and administrative costs to the federal government should be minimal.  The savings seen by counties will far outweigh any administrative costs,” Johnson continued.

 

“The fact is that if this bill were the law of the land, counties like Mohave would save millions and the BLM would have to recognize that roads that are actually in existence by any normal measure of that standard, do in fact, exist and rightfully belong to the counties” Johnson concluded.

 

To read the entire context of HR 4313 please click here: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-114hr4313ih/pdf/BILLS-114hr4313ih.pdf
HR 4313 has been assigned to the House Committee on Natural Resources.

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