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Tulare County v. Bush

Citation: 33 ELR 20081
No. No. 01-5376, 306 F.3d 1138/(D.C. Cir., 10/18/2002)

The court affirms a district court dismissal of a county's complaint alleging that the designation of the Sequoia National Monument by President William J. Clinton violated the Antiquities Act, the U.S. Constitution, and several other laws. The court first holds that contrary to the county's argument, the Antiquities Act does not require that a monument designation specify with a certain level of detail the objects of historic or scientific interest being addressed through the designation. The Antiquities Act authorizes designations for objects of historic or scientific interest and the designation of the Sequoia National Monument sufficiently identified historic sites and objects of scientific interest within the designated lands. Further, the designation of the sequoia ecosystem does not violate the language of the Act. The Antiquities Act also does not impose on the president an obligation to investigate whether a proposed designation is the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects proposed for protection. The court next holds that the county failed to make factual allegations sufficient to support its claim that the president abused his discretion by designating more land than necessary to protect the historic and scientific objects of interest. Similarly, the county lacked sufficient factual allegations to support its claim that the designation of the Sequoia National Monument increases the risk of harm from fires to the area within the monument boundaries. The court further holds that the county cannot allege violations of the Property Clause of the Constitution because the designation fell under the authority of the Antiquities Act and not the Property Clause. The court then holds that the designation of the monument did not violate the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) by unlawfully withdrawing land from the national forest system. The designation conceives of the designated land as having dual status as part of the national monument and as part of the Sequoia National Forest. Further, the court holds that the county cannot allege that the management of the monument violates the NFMA or the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Neither the NFMA nor NEPA provides a cause of action, so claims must be brought under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), but the APA does not authorize judicial review of presidential actions. The court finally holds that although a settlement agreement provided that timber harvesting in part of the designated land would be available, the settlement agreement did not create in any party the right to actual timber harvest. Thus, the designation of the monument is not subject to valid existing rights.

Counsel for Appellants
Gary G. Stevens
Saltman & Stevens
1801 K St. NW, Washington DC 20006
(202) 452-2140

Counsel for Appellees
Susan Pacholski
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000

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