RS 2477 is remnant of the mining law of 1866, which was repealed in 1976 when the Federal Land Policy and Management Act was passed. The intent of rs2477 was to grant access to miners on the public domain way back when, and its purpose had long expired.
Nevertheless, some crafty lawyers with help from the first Bush Administration seized on it as a method for claiming that any old track or even sled trail on public lands was in fact “a highway,” and could be turned into an ATV runway or even a paved highway by a county contrary on any other law. Some even want to use it to attack private property rights to assert RS 2477 claims exist on private property where a way has been abandoned.
Some rural counties and lawless off-road groups have used it as a cudgel to attack proposed wilderness areas, national monuments and even national parks. The second Bush administration has been only too happy to accommodate them.
Now Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colorado is sponsoring a measure to the Dept. of Interior’s appropriations that would forbid the BLM from spending money to validate rs2477 claims by counties or states. Putting it in the budget largely protects it from filibuster, thus only a majority of the Senate needs to approve it rather than the 60 votes needed to kill the filibuster.
Here is the story in the Denver Post. Udall wants BLM not to surrender roads to locals. By Thomas Burr (originally from the Salt Lake Tribune). I should note that RS 2477 abuses have been most common in Utah.