SALT LAKE CITY -- State officials and two southern Utah counties are seeking ownership of hundreds of roads that traverse the rugged red-rock backcountry and pass through the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
Chief Deputy Attorney General John Swallow says the lawsuits are the only way to maintain motorized access through these areas.
Swallow says access is preserved for roads that have a historic use, but the Interior Department prohibits maintenance and blocks motorized vehicles on many of them.
Kane County officials say in the lawsuit that the roads are often the only route across the remote landscapes in the region.
The lawsuits are the latest filings in a decades-long dispute throughout the western United States. The contested routes can range from graded dirt roads to dry stream beds.
Interior officials refused to comment.