Federal Lands, R.S. 2477, and "Disclaimers of Interest"

RS21402 -- Federal Lands, R.S. 2477, and "Disclaimers of Interest"

Updated May 22, 2006


An 1866 statute known as R.S. 2477 granted rights of way for the construction of highways over unreserved public lands. On January 6, 2003, the Department of the Interior published broad new "disclaimer of interest" regulations under ยง 315 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 and stated that disclaimers would be used to acknowledge R.S. 2477 rights of way. Congress has directed that no rules "pertaining to" recognition or validity of an R.S. 2477 rights of way can be effective unless authorized by Congress, and the use of disclaimers in the R.S. 2477 context may be controversial. More recently, DOI has issued new guidance regarding recognition of R.S. 2477 rights of way that again mentions the use of disclaimers for that purpose. This report discusses R.S. 2477 rights of way, the disclaimer regulations and DOI guidance, the congressional directive, and legislation. It will be updated as warranted.