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Humboldt County v. United States

Citation: 12 ELR 21121
No. No. 80-4419, 684 F.2d 1276/18 ERC 1273/(9th Cir., 08/24/1982)

The court rules that Humboldt County did not hold rights-of-way in two roads in the Blue Lake scenic area and upholds the Bureau of Land Management's closure of the roads to vehicular use. Initially, the court rules that appellant was barred from claiming a right-of-way in the Theodore Basin road because it failed to bring suit within 12 years after receiving notice of appellees' claim in that road, as required by 28 U.S.C. § 2409a(f). Next, the court rules that appellant did not acquire a right-of-way in the Onion Valley Reservoir road under 43 U.S.C. § 932 since the Blue Lake area was not public lands, as it had been withdrawn from sale or disposition by Executive Order No. 6910. In addition, the court determines that extension of § 932 to encompass appellant's claimed right-of-way, which would provide access to Blue Lake for recreational purposes, goes beyond the congressional intent to apply that section to rights-of-way that would facilitate private mineral development.

Turning to appellees' 1977 closure of the Blue Lake area to vehicular use, the court rules that such action was not temporary and therefore not authorized by 43 C.F.R. § 8364.1. Neither did § 603 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act authorize the closure since appellees' 1980 designation of the Blue Lake area as a wilderness study area did not comply with the procedural requirements of § 3(d) of the Wilderness Act. However, the court holds that the closure was authorized under 43 C.F.R. § 8342.2(a) and Executive Order No. 11644 since appellees' action constituted the closure of public lands to prevent off-road vehicle use and was in compliance with the applicable public participation requirements. Finally, the court holds that appellees' decision not to grant appellant's application for the conveyance of land surrounding the Blue Lake area, pursuant to the Recreational and Public Purposes Act, pending congressional action on the designation of the area as a wilderness area was not an abuse of discretion.

Counsel for Appellant
Julian C. Smith Jr.
Smith & Gamble
502 N. Division St., Carson City NY 89701
(702) 883-3200

Counsel for Appellees
Shirley Smith, Ass't U.S. Attorney
300 Booth St., Reno NV 89509
(702) 784-5439

Before BROWNING, Chief Judge; SKOPIL, and NORRIS, Circuit Judges.

VACATED and REMANDED in part with instructions to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction and AFFIRMED in part.