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Dahl v. Clark

Citation: 15 ELR 20303
No. No. CV-R-82-124-ECR, 600 F. Supp. 585/(D. Nev., 12/31/1984)

The court rules that the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act requires only that the Bureau of Land Managment (BLM) manage wild horses and burros to maintain a thriving ecological balance, not that it keep populations down to their 1971 levels. The court finds that BLM's rejection of its own pre-1981 data showing range deterioration and overpopulation was based not on fact but an arbitrary decision by Secretary Watt to keep grazing populations up. The evidence shows that the range is overpopulated and deteriorating, and, therefore, BLM has not met even its staturory mandate of maintaining a thriving ecological balance. Nevertheless, the court rejects plaintiffs' petitions for mandamus and for the court to compel agency action unlawfully withheld under Administrative Procedure Act §706; plaintiffs specifically and exclusively seek a return to 1971 population levels, and the statute does not require that. The court also rejects plaintiffs' challenge to defendant's alleged failure to establish the Augusta Mountains Horse Management Area, because neither statute nor regulation requires such designation; at any rate, the issue was not properly developed before the court.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Stewart Wilson
Wilson and Barrows, Ltd.
One Professional Center, 575 Court St., P.O. Box 389, Elko NV 89801
(702) 738-7271

Counsel for Defendants
Shirley Smith, Ass't U.S. Attorney
300 Booth St., Room 2-032, Reno NV 89509
(702) 784-5439

Jose Toro
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 724-7345