RS 2477 SERVICES
GEO-HAZ performs historical map research and field verification into land access routes and rights-of-way, utilizing its experience with topographic maps, map projections, aerial photographs, georegistration, registering historic maps with modern maps and aerial photographs, and methods of earthmoving and road construction. These services are often required when new landowners are not able to build until they can obtain (condemn) a legal access across a neighbor's property, and the neighbor refuses to grant same. A major issue in lawsuits is whether the roadway under condemnation proceedings existed and carried "public traffic" before the land was withdrawn from the Public Domain of the United States, that is, was granted a homestead patent or was sold to an individual. If public use predated the withdrawal, then the roadway has a permanent public right of way under U.S. Law RS-2477, and the general public can use it for access regardless of the current owner's wishes.
Land patent dates in Colorado (outside of mining districts) range from the 1880s to 1920s, so determining whether roads existed before or after patenting requires examination of historic planimetric and topographic maps from that period. Typically, aerial photographs were not taken before 1934, so roads built before and during the homesteading period (wagon roads) can only be assessed from maps. After 1934 aerial photographs can be compared with historic maps, once they are correctly georegistered.
In the past decade GEO-HAZ has performed RS 2477 research for both landowners wishing to keep roads closed, and groups wishing to preserve public access to old roads. Our philosophy is: the evidence will decide. To date, our research has revealed that most roads under dispute are a combination of pre-patent road segments and later post-patent road segments that were abandoned for some reason and are no longer drivable.