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Seeking to encourage people to settle the public domain, the federal government established the R.S. 2477 right of way, a grant to construct highways over land in the public domain. There are now thousands of miles of highway across the Western United States constructed pursuant to the authority in R.S. 2477, but most of these rights of way were never documented by any formal process. Alaska has made it a priority to document existing R.S. 2477 rights of way in an effort to manage and develop public lands. Identifying existing R.S. 2477 rights of way is essential for economic development, but the State’s aggressive litigation strategy threatens the rights of private property owners, the integrity of land allotments under the Alaska Native Claims Act, and federal conservation efforts in Alaska. After examining the history of R.S. 2477, Alaska’s litigation strategy, and how these rights of way conflict with interests of Native Corporations and federal wilderness and conservation efforts, this Note offers possibilities for resolving the conflict over R.S. 2477 rights of way in Alaska.
Michelle Jackson, The Road Goes Ever On and On: A Path Through the Wilderness on R.S. 2477 Litigation in Alaska, 36 Alaska Law Review 193-220 (2019)
Available at: https://scholarship.law.duke.edu/alr/vol36/iss2/5