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Minnesota ex rel. Alexander v. Block

Citation: 11 ELR 21033
No. Nos. 80-1769 et al., 660 F.2d 1240/(8th Cir., 09/30/1981) Aff'd

Affirming the district court, 11 ELR 20124, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the constitutionality of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act. Although § 4 of the Act prohibits or strictly regulates the use of motorboats and snowmobiles on all lands within the boundaries of the wilderness area, including those lands owned by the State of Minnesota, this does not amount to a violation of the Property Clause. Under the Property Clause Congress may regulate activities on or off federal lands, as long as the regulation is necessary to protect the fundamental purposes of the federal lands. Congress rationally determined that motor vehicle restrictions are necessary to protect the area. The court also upholds the Act under the Tenth Amendment, ruling that it does not regulate "states as states" but is aimed only at the conduct of private citizens. Sectionn 5 of the Act, which (1) authorizes owners of resorts riparian to designated lakes to force the federal government to purchase their property and (2) gives the federal government a right of first refusal on other properties subsequently offered for sale along those lakes, does not violate the Fifth Amendment. Although these provisions may limit in some way the alienability and thus the value of these properties, such effects do not rise to the level of a taking. The fact that the government's right of refusal arises only after a neighboring resort owner has demanded the purchase of his property does not give rise to an unlawful delegation of legislative power. The court also rejects the state's claim that these provisions should be construed to apply only to land located within the boundaries of the area, noting that the lakes subject to § 5 have been specifically denoted therein. The court goes on to rule that the Act does not run afoul of two United States-Caanda treaties guaranteeing that border waterways remain "free and open," since those treaties were not intended by the signatories to limit their sovereign powers to establish reasonable rules for protecting such waterways. Further, an environmental impact statement is not required prior to implementation of the Act since its provisions are self-executing and do not require discretionary action to be taken by the Secretary of Agriculture.

Counsel are listed at 11 ELR 20124.

Joined by Lay and Stephenson, JJ.