Trial begins over disputed route at Canyonlands NP

Trial begins over disputed route at Canyonlands NP

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- After years of behind-the-scenes legal wrangling, the fight over a disputed route in Canyonlands National Park is finally in the courtroom.

Lawyers gave their opening statements in federal court Monday about the fate of a remote canyon corridor leading to Angel Arch, one of southern Utah's most spectacular sights.

San Juan County and the state of Utah sued the National Park Service for closing much of the route to vehicles about 10 years ago.

On Monday, attorneys for the county and state said the route clearly qualifies as a public right of way under an 1866 law, called R.S. 2477, which assured passage across federal lands.

Federal lawyers dispute the claim and say the lawsuit was filed beyond the statute of limitations.

The trial is scheduled to last two weeks.

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

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