Court denies road claims in Utah national monument

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DENVER (AP) -- A federal appeals court has rejected two Utah counties' challenge of vehicle restrictions in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah.

A three-judge panel of the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued the ruling Monday.

The judges denied a claim by Kane and Garfield counties that federal officials must disprove the counties' rights to roads through the nearly 2 million-acre monument.

The decision upholds one by a federal court in Utah that found counties can't shift the burden of proof to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and other environmental groups joined the federal government in fighting the lawsuit.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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