“Earlier this week, the county came out and graded this road, and the BLM said, ‘well, I guess according to the Title V it’s permitted.’ And we said, we’re not doing it under Title V, we’re doing it under RS-2477 and that’s our road…”

posted by editor

The road in Recapture Canyon is a county right-of-way with a history spanning three centuries, but prior to 2007 it was virtually unknown to anyone outside of San Juan County, Utah. The road became a flashpoint of controversy when a Colorado-based green group launched a lawsuit claiming that motorized traffic on the well-traveled trail threatened Native American antiquities in the canyon. The BLM, in collusion with extremist activists, responded by closing it to the off-roaders who had enjoyed it for decades. After years of frustration, residents of San Juan County organized a ‘Freedom Ride’ through the canyon in protest of what they believed was the illegal closure of the canyon by the BLM. In May of 2014, a convoy of 4-wheelers and other off-road vehicles made a trek on Recapture Canyon road, and as a result, several men were charged with trespass and conspiracy, including San Juan County Commissioner, Phil Lyman (seen in the video below), and Monticello City Councilman, Monte Wells.

Read more about the Recapture Freedom Ride here

But armed with irrefutable evidence that Recapture Canyon Road is a historical RS-2477 right-of-way under local jurisdiction, San Juan County never gave up its efforts to reopen the road for traditional multiple uses. In late November of 2017, the County sued the federal government for rights to the road. Unrelenting push back from San Juan County, as well as support from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, whose public lands vision emphasizes multiple uses, has resulted in a gradual reopening of all but a few trails in Recapture Canyon.

See the latest developments in the video below.

Video produced by At Your Leisure


Phil Lyman:

“The very first road in San Juan County that was allocated money was this road through Recapture Wash, back in 1879. This road is important for recreation, it’s important for access to the pipeline, it’s important for hunting. But probably of most significance for this road is its historical context that it is the initial road.”


“The trail was used for decades by ATV’ers and maintenance workers as a county owned road until 2007, when a Colorado-based environmental group claimed that motorized travel threatened the artifacts. In response the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) closed the road asserting the county had no right-of-way claim. Debates and protests, as you can imagine, quickly ensued. But last year, the first rays of light broke through the clouds when the BLM officially reopened side trails leading up the canyon. And now, the county has taken even more steps to open up the historic road, affirming their ownership rights under United States Revised Statute 2477 (RS-2477).”

Phil Lyman:

“In 1979 when they were applying for their permits for the dam and for the pipeline and all this project, the BLM referred to this as an RS-2477 road. Earlier this week, the county came out and graded this road, and the BLM said, ‘well, I guess according to the Title V it’s permitted.’ And we said, we’re not doing it under Title V, we’re doing it under RS-2477 and that’s our road, and they just kind of remained silent on that point. Then also this week, San Juan County filed a lawsuit on this for Quiet Title. It seems really ridiculous that we go through a decade of controversy on something that is completely non-controversial. All of the artifacts concerns have been resolved in this area with multiple clearances, multiple environmental assessments from the BLM saying, yes, this is fine for the mining operation. It’s fine for the pipeline. It’s fine for recreation.”


“While the full road isn’t opened yet, the new section allows explorers to ride farther down the wash, accessing rim trails that branch all the way to the center of Blanding. This opens up areas unvisited for over a decade.”

Phil Lyman:

“If they’re trying to get down to some really beautiful parts of Recapture Canyon, this gets them a mile closer. And there’s a lot of people in the ATV community who are on their ATV’s because it’s really hard for them to hike…”

See the full video below

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  1. Outstanding, simply outstanding! As President of American Mining Rights Association, we have dealt with the closures of roads by the USFS and BLM for years. Unilateral closures which are illegal and violate the mining acts as well as the rules governing public land access. This started under Clinton in the 90’s, wasn’t stopped by Bush and went into turbo-mode under Obama. Thankfully, Utah stepped up and set this earth shattering precedence case and rightfully challenged these closures under RS-2477. We plan to take this litigation and use it in other states like Idaho, Oregon and California. Great news!

    Mr. Shannon Poe

  2. Outstanding yes this is exactly why i am a proud AMRA member and i encourage all outdoors-men an women .Please help and support AMRA the folks who are representing us all and our rights to be out there on BLM land and US Forests lands Thank you all at AMRA who fight for our rights

  3. I do not know how they can post signs right on our claims. They are right on the claims that we leased from them . Thank you.

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