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Western Mining Council v. Watt

Citation: 11 ELR 20440
No. No. 86-2699, 643 F.2d 618/(9th Cir., 04/23/1981)

Affirming the district court's dismissal of the lawsuit, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals holds that injuries to appellants that might arise from enforcemewnt of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA) are not sufficiently concrete to give them standing to sue and that provisions concerning filing unpatented mining claims do not give rise to a claim upon which relief could be granted. Appellants, individual miners, mining corporations, and the Western Mining Council, sought a declaratory judgment that FLPMA was unconstitutional and to enjoin the Secretary of the Interior from expending funds for law enforcement on the public lands. The district court dismissed, holding that appellants had failed to state a justiciable claim. The Ninth Circuit holds that appellants who failed to allege actual or threatened injury neither have standing to contest FLPMA's provisions authorizing law enforcement officials to prevent undue land degradation as unconstitutionally vague or to challenge warrantless searches as a violation of the Fourth Amendment.Nor do appellants have standing to challenge (1) FLPMA's requirement for deposits to reimburse the government for the expense of special studies associated with public lands applications; (2) the Act's policy of retaining public lands in federal ownership as an unconstitutional discrimination between states; and (3) the personal service provisions of the Act. While appellants do have standing to litigate the constitutionality of a provision authorizing four-year contracts with local law officials, this contention is rejected as not stating a claim. Appellants' allegations characterizing as arbitrary and unreasonable the § 314 requirement that owners of unpatented mining claims record such claims with the Bureau of Land Management or forfeit them is held not sufficient to state a claim. This requirement is not a violation of substantive due process but a rational means of freeing the public lands from stale claims in order to permit sound land use planning and management.

Counsel for Appellants
Jane Skanderup
1900 Sugar Pine Rd., Meadow Vista CA 95722
(916) 878-0950

William B. Murray
Suite 505, Title & Trust Bldg., 321 SW 4th Ave., Portland OR 97204
(503) 228-3819

Counsel for Appellee
James W. Moorman, Ass't Attorney General; Robert L. Klarquist, Michael A. McCord
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2701

Before ANDERSON and FLETCHER, Circuit Judges, and EAST,* District Judge.