Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, Inc. v. Watson

ELR Citation: 13 ELR 20233
Nos. Nos. 82-3206, -3241, 697 F.2d 1305/18 ERC 1785/(9th Cir., 01/31/1983) Aff'd

The court upholds a district court decision, 12 ELR 20658, that §503(h)(3) of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) requires the United States Forest Service (USFS) to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) before approving U.S. Borax's amended plan for mining at Quartz Hill, Misty Fjords National Monument. First, the court holds that the district court acted within its discretion in hearing the case even though appellee had not exhausted its administrative remedies. ANILCA does not mandate exhaustion, and circumstances called for rapid resolution of the case as U.S. Borax had already started activities at Quartz Hill. The court then notes that interpretation and implementation of ANILCA must serve the statute's express purpose of protecting the environmental values of the reserved lands. The court interprets §503(h)(3) of ANILCA to require an EIS for all bulk sampling at Quartz Hill, not just bulk sampling connected with road building. The court then upholds the district court's ruling that because the Service ignored factors set out in a previous decision, 12 ELR 20188, USFS was arbitrary and capricious in finding that U.S. Borax's proposed activities were not bulk sampling. Finally, the court rules that the proposed activities do constitute bulk sampling based upon similarities between the proposed activities and activities USFS had previously held to be bulk sampling.

[Related decisions are reported at 12 ELR 20187, 20188, 20658, 20924, and 13 ELR 20237 — Ed.]

Counsel for Appellants
Clyde O. Martz
Davis, Graham & Stubbs
P.O. Box 185, Denver CO 80201
(303) 892-9400

Michael T. Thomas
Robertson, Monagle, Eastaugh & Bradley
P.O. Box 679, Anchorage AK 99510
(907) 277-6693

Sue Ellen Tatter, Ass't U.S. Attorney
701 C St., Box 9, Anchorage AK 99513
(907) 271-5071

Maria A. Iizuka
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2753

Counsel for Appellee
Durwood J. Zaelke Jr.
Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, Inc.
419 6th St., Suite 321, Juneau AK 99801
(907) 586-2751

Richard M. Burnham
326 4th St., Juneau AK 99801
(907) 586-3777

Before PREGERSON, ALARCON, and NELSON, Circuit Judges.