Kootenai County Commissioners Tuesday took a step toward management of federal lands when they passed a resolution to preserve old rights of way in the national forest.
The commissioners voted unanimously for the resolution, which invokes the county’s authority over forest roads or trails that were built between 1866 and 1907.
The resolution is based on an 1866 federal law that allowed the construction of roads without the federal government’s permission. The law is getting increased use as Western politicians fight attempts by the Forest Service and other land management agencies to close old roads.
The law was repealed in 1976, but proponents of motorized access to public lands argue that many historic roads and trails still are protected under it.
Individuals who want to get a particular forest road on the county’s inventory can fill out a special form to file with the county recorder. Not all roads would be protected under the federal law, however.