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National Ass'n of Property Owners v. United States

Citation: 11 ELR 20124
No. Nos. 5-79-95 et al., 499 F. Supp. 1223/(D. Minn., 07/24/1980)

In three consolidated cases the court upholds various provisions of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act against constitutional and statutory challenges. In the first case, the court (1) rejects plaintiffs' allegation that Congress' reliance upon a map, held by the Department of Agriculture for public inspection, to determine the boundaries of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) constitutes an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority; (2) rules that § 4 of the Act, which restricts the use of motorboats and snowmobiles in the BWCAW, does not unconstitutionally discriminate against handicapped individuals who otherwise would be able to utilize the area; (3) determines that the same provision neither violates the Ninth Amendment nor denies plaintiffs their right to substantive due process under the Fifth Amendment; (4) finds that § 5 of the Act, which gives owners of property in the BWCAW a right to have the government purchase their property, neither contravenes the Ninth Amendment, constitutes an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority, nor violates the Taking and Due Process Clauses of the Fifth Amendment; (5) finds no conflict between the Act and the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842; and (6) concludes that plaintiffs lack standing to challenge the Forest Service's alleged selective enforcement of the Act.In the second case the court disagrees with plaintiffs' contention that because Congress lacks power to regulate lands which it does not own that the Act impermissibly restricts the activities permitted on plaintiffs' land. The Act reasonably regulates activity on private property which will affect federal property in the BWCAW and thus is within Congress' power under the Property Clause. Although the State of Minnesota argues that the effect of this conclusion is to deny it any role in the management of the BWCAW, the proper reading of the Act is to set up a federal-state partnership in managing the area. In the third case the court determines that defendants are not required under the National Environmental Policy Act to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) regarding the implementation of the Act. The defendants' implementation of the Act does not constitute major federal action because it (1) does not involve an exercise of administrative discretion and (2) in any case, does not permit any person to take action resulting in significant environmental effects upon the BWCAW. Moreover, because the Act requires certain implementing activities to be taken immediately, the preparation of an EIS would frustrate that legislative intent.

[Supplemental order addressing Indian treaty omitted. — Ed.]

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Keith Brownell
600 Missabe Bldg., 227 W. 1st St., Duluth MN 55802
(218) 722-5807

Ben A. Wallis Jr.
2400 Tower Life Bldg., 310 S. St. Mary's St., San Antonio TX 78205
(512) 226-2331

Counsel for Defendants
Thorwald H. Anderson Jr., Franicis X. Hermann, Ass't U.S. Attorneys; Thomas K. Berg, U.S. Attorney
596 U.S. Cthse., 110 S. 4th St., Minneapolis MN 55401
(612) 332-8961

James T. Draude
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-3796

James P. Perry
Office of the General Counsel
Department of Agriculture, Washington DC 20250
(202) 447-6055

Counsel for Intervening Environmental Groups
Charles K. Dayton, James A. Payne
Dayton, Herman, Graham & Getts
Suite 930, 10 S. 5th St., Minneapolis MN 55401
(612) 339-0431

Counsel for State of Minnesota
Philip J. Olfelt, Ass't Attorney General; Warren Spannaus, Attorney General
102 State Capitol, St. Paul MN 55155
(612) 296-6196