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SB 1258: Public rights of way — 2024

Summary: SB 1258 requires access to public lands and waters be replaced if a county or highway district vacates a public right-of-way.

ICL's position: Support

Current Bill Status: Passed Senate, House Committee

Issue Areas: Public Lands, Recreation, Transportation

Official Legislative Site

Sen. Herndon (R-Sagle) introduced SB 1258 in the Senate Transportation Committee as a replacement to SB 1217. SB 1258 would require that a “public rights-of-way” that accesses public lands or waters, which has been vacated or abandoned by a county or highway district, would be replaced by another public right-of-way. Unlike the prior language in SB 1217, which required specified any replacement be identical in length and width, SB 1258 requires the substitute access to be “substantially similar” and “for the same scope.” In addition, it precludes the use of eminent domain for the purpose of securing the replacement.

Finally, the bill requires a county or highway district board to accept evidence associated with public access in abandonment procedures.

The bill is largely in response to a controversy in North Idaho, where Bonner County abandoned a public right-of-way that provided access to Lake Pend Oreille in order to accommodate a new subdivision.

ICL agrees that public access should be protected and we support passage of SB 1258.