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Old 11-03-2003, 04:17 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Supreme Court jumps into fight over Western lands

Supreme Court jumps into fight over Western lands


By GINA HOLLAND

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court said Monday it will use a dispute over wilderness areas to decide what legal rights people have when they're angered by government action - or inaction.

The case puts the justices in the middle of a fight between environmentalists and the Bush administration over allowing off-road vehicles in wilderness study areas.

Environmental groups had sued in 1999 accusing a federal agency of not following a congressional mandate to preserve the pristine qualities of areas being considered for wilderness designation.

The Bush administration maintains that an agency's daily activities such as managing federal land cannot be challenged in court. The law does not allow courts to ''entertain challenges to anything and everything that an agency may do, or fail to do, in the conduct of its business,'' Solicitor General Theodore Olson told justices in a filing.

At issue in the case justices picked for review is land in Utah's backcountry being considered for special wilderness designation. Under federal law, those lands must be managed as if they were official wilderness areas until Congress decides what to do with them, meaning no motor vehicles or development.

The Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Bureau of Land Management has a statutory obligation to protect wilderness study areas, and could face lawsuits for not doing so.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco came to a similar conclusion in a Montana case.

James Angell of Denver, an attorney for EarthJustice, had told justices that the groups that sued in Utah were worried about off-road vehicles which ''pose a significant threat to the ecological health of the fragile desert lands managed by BLM in Utah and have eroded the soils, trampled vegetation, destroyed cultural relics, harmed water quality, harassed wildlife, and destroyed wildlife habitat.''

The groups are trying to force the bureau to protect five wilderness study areas containing steep redrock slot canyons, and sandstone buttes and plateaus.

The issue for justices is not whether those areas deserve special designation, but whether courts have jurisdiction to consider the subject.

Olson said the groups could challenge final agency actions, but not inaction.

The case is Norton v. Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 03-101
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Old 11-03-2003, 09:13 PM   #2 (permalink)
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this seems to have a hook at both ends??
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Old 11-05-2003, 01:47 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Hi! I'm new to this board. Hate for this to be my first post. I have some questions about the AP article posted above.

1st-How did the "enviromentalists" file a suit against the Bush Administration in 1999?

2nd-I thought that "wilderness study areas" were illegal. I know they just make a new name for them and go ahead anyway. Just thought I remembered that the late 70's wilderness study was up held and the Babbit (1999) re-inventory had been set aside.

3rd-Is this the same case that asked for all roads in 10 million acres of public land be closed?

If this is the same case that USA-ALL and Blue Ribbon have been fighting for years then the article gives false information.

I have a news update from USA-ALL if someone would like the other side of the story.

Of course I may be wrong and this may be another case but it's kind of hard to believe that there would be two cases so close going on at the same time.

Seems to me some folks are taking cheap shots at Bush.

Last edited by HappyJack; 11-05-2003 at 01:50 PM.
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Old 11-05-2003, 03:34 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by HappyJack
Hi! I'm new to this board. Hate for this to be my first post. I have some questions about the AP article posted above.

1st-How did the "enviromentalists" file a suit against the Bush Administration in 1999? they find a retarded lawyer with the intellect of a three year old and file the lawsuit

2nd-I thought that "wilderness study areas" were illegal. I know they just make a new name for them and go ahead anyway. Just thought I remembered that the late 70's wilderness study was up held and the Babbit (1999) re-inventory had been set aside.

3rd-Is this the same case that asked for all roads in 10 million acres of public land be closed? I think you're talking about Klinton's roadless policy

If this is the same case that USA-ALL and Blue Ribbon have been fighting for years then the article gives false information.

I have a news update from USA-ALL if someone would like the other side of the story.
post it up

Of course I may be wrong and this may be another case but it's kind of hard to believe that there would be two cases so close going on at the same time.

Seems to me some folks are taking cheap shots at Bush.and this surprises you how? just another tactic in the life of a liberal that wants to control the world


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Old 11-05-2003, 03:35 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Old 11-05-2003, 04:25 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Greetings Access Advocates,
On Monday, November 3 2003, the Supreme Court granted a petition filed by the Utah Shared Access Alliance (USA-ALL), the BlueRibbon Coalition and the Department of the Interior to review a 10th Circuit Court ruling regarding OHV use in Utah.

The matter involves a lawsuit originally filed in 1999 by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA). The suit claimed the BLM had not properly managed Off- Highway Vehicle (OHV) use on lands they manage in Utah. Among other things, SUWA asked the court to ban all vehicle use on approximately 10 million acres.

Utah Shared Access Alliance, Utah's largest public lands access organization, along with the BlueRibbon Coalition successfully petitioned for defendant-intervenor status to aid BLM's defense of OHV management. The state of Utah and several counties also intervened in the case prompted by concerns that SUWA's claims also sought to close county roads.

SUWA filed a motion for preliminary injunction demanding an immediate ban of all vehicle use in 9 popular OHV areas. Some of the roads SUWA went after included the Devils Racetrack, the Eva Conover road, and Coal Wash road in the San Rafael Swell; the Behind the Rocks road and the Moab Rim road near Moab; and Moquith Mountain Loop road near Kanab.

BLM and USA-ALL defended against SUWA’s motion and USA-ALL moved to dismiss SUWA’s claims. In December, 2000, in a crushing blow to SUWA, the court granted our motion, denied the motion for preliminary injunction, and dismissed SUWAs claims in these areas.

As expected, SUWA appealed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. SUWA’s appeal was argued in January, 2002. Unfortunately, on August 29, 2002 a split panel of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court's ruling in a 2-1 decision. The majority, while not ruling that SUWA would ultimately win, ruled that the matter must remanded back to the district judge for further consideration. The decision did not immediately close any roads or trails, or give SUWA a victory on any of their original claims. SUWA would still have to prove their claims in court in order to close any areas.

USA-ALL, BlueRibbon and the Department of the Interior have since requested the Supreme Court reconsider the decision reached by the 10th Circuit Court.

The Wilderness Advocate Groups are saying this issue is primarily about OHV use in Wilderness Study Areas. We think its important to note that the district court's ruling addressed existing Wilderness Study Areas as well as other lands. Of the 9 areas at issue, some are WSAs, some were found to have "wilderness character" by the BLM during the "Babbitt inventory" and others are only proposed for Wilderness by the Wilderness Advocates.

One of the objectives of SUWAs lawsuit was to force the BLM to treat lands wilderness groups are proposing for wilderness as de-facto Wilderness Study Areas.

Our request for Supreme Court review focuses on a fairly complex jurisdictional point. A lawsuit against an agency has to choose one of two routes under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). One route, under Section 706(1) allows a federal court to compel an agency to take nondiscretionary action that has been unlawfully withheld or unreasonably delayed. The other, under Section 706(2), allows a federal court to declare unlawful and set aside an agency action found to be illegal.

Or stated another way, a litigant can challenge an agency action as arbitrary and capricious, or the litigant can try to compel an agency to do something it is supposed to do, but hasn't. The Utah District Court dismissed the case because SUWA took the latter route even though BLM was clearly managing OHV use in these areas, and showed evidence that conditions were improving. We believe that SUWA attempted to bypass the difficult “arbitrary and capricious” standard by arguing that even when BLM is acting it isn't “fully” acting and can therefore be sued under Section 706(1).

The 10th Circuit's ruling dramatically expands the limits under section 706(1) of the APA so that anyone can sue an agency, not because they did something illegal or because they failed in their duty to fulfill some statutory mandate, but simply because they don't like the way an agency is going about its business.

Unless overturned by the Supreme Court, this ruling will radically affect public land management. The BLM is already spending over 40% of its budget in litigation. Land managers are having a difficult time implementing any pro-active management because of the endless appeals and protests. This ruling will only make the situation worse.

Brian Hawthorne of the Utah Shared Access Alliance had this to say about the news:
"The issue is not whether BLM must manage OHV use in wilderness study areas. It must and it does. The issue is whether wealthy environmental groups can commandeer day-to-day management of BLM programs through nonstop litigation. The Tenth Circuit ruling opens the floodgates for litigation that will paralyze prudent management."

"By granting certiorari, the Supreme Court has recognized the seriousness of the issue raised by USA-ALL’s and the government's petitions. Hopefully, a ruling from the Supreme Court will help stop the ‘management through litigation’ model that seems popular with some activists."
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Old 11-05-2003, 04:45 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally posted by YellowSub1962
oh yeah... WELCOME


Thanks. Just felt there needed to be a response to the original post. It's the same one. I have an e-mail in to Brian at USA-ALL. One of the things I asked is if he knows who Gina Holland is. May take a while as no doubt he has many e-mails on this.
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Old 11-05-2003, 08:44 PM   #8 (permalink)
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welcome and thanks
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