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Sagebrush Rebellion, Inc. v. Watt

Citation: 13 ELR 20928
No. No. 82-3443, 713 F.2d 525/20 ERC 1290/(9th Cir., 08/19/1983)

The Ninth Circuit holds that the National Audubon Society and other environmental organizations are entitled to intervene as of right on behalf of defendant-appellee, the Secretary of the Interior, in a suit challenging creation of the Snake River Birds of Prey Conservation Area. The court rules that the denial of a motion to intervene as of right under FED. R. CIV. P. 24(a)(2) is a final order and appealable to the court of appeals. Next, the court holds that appellants have met the court's four requirements for approval of an intervention as of right. First, appellants filed a timely motion. Second, appellants have asserted a protectable interest since creation of the conservation area is of interest to the organizations, which are devoted to the protection of birds and their habitats. Third, appellants are so situated that an adverse decision in the suit would impair their interest in the preservation of birds and their habitats. Fourth, appellants' interests are inadequately represented by the Secretary of the Interior. Appellants meet this last requirement, which only requires that their interests "may be" inadequately represented, because they have expertise apart from that of the Secretary, and they have a materially different perspective fromthe Secretary who previously worked for plaintiffs' legal representative and who himself did not propose the conservation area but inherited the recommendation from the previous presidential administration. The court rejects the contention of the dissent that defendant-appellee is without influence because he is represented by the Department of Justice. The court holds that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that it look at the parties to the action, not their counsel.

A dissent would uphold the district court's denial of the motion to intervene. It agrees with the district court that bifurcation of the trial into two issues, the first a purely legal issue, removes the need to allow intervention at this time.

Counsel for Plaintiffs-Appellees
R. Norman Cramer
Mountain States Legal Foundation
1200 Lincoln St., Suite 600, Denver CO 80203
(303) 861-0244

Counsel for Defendants-Appellees
Jeffrey Ring, Ass't U.S. Attorney
Rm. 693, 550 W. Fort St., Boise ID 83724
(208) 334-1211

Scott W. Reed
P.O. Box A, Coeur d'Alene ID 83814
(208) 664-2161

Counsel for Appellants-Intervenors
John L. Runft
Runft & Longeteig
P.O. Box 1960, Boise ID 83701
(208) 344-6100

Before WALLACE and SCHROEDER, Circuit Judges, and TASHIMA,* District Judge.