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United States v. Weiss

ELR Citation: 11 ELR 20512
Nos. No. 78-2800, 642 F.2d 296/(9th Cir., 04/13/1981)

The court rules that the Organic Administration Act of 1897 authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to issue regulations regarding placer mining on national forest lands. The Forest Service sought to enjoin defendants from mining until an approved mining plan had been filed and a bond posted as required by surface mining regulations issued pursuant to the Organic Act. The court notes that the Secretary has authority under the Act to regulate non-mining surface uses of national forest lands. Moreover, it rules that the Act authorizes the Secretary to adopt reasonable regulations regarding mining operations within national forests to protect them from destruction. Since the regulations in question were adopted to minimize adverse environmental impacts, they are authorized by the Act. The failure of the Forest Service to adopt the regulations until long after they were statutorily authorized does not forfeit the government's property rights. Further, the court notes that although locaters have a right to mine on public lands, the government retains title to the land and thus may protect it against waste.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Jacques B. Gelin; James W. Moorman, Ass't Attorney General
Land and National Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2762

M. Karl Shurtliff, U.S. Attorney
Box 037, Boise ID 83724
(208) 334-1211

Counsel for Defendant
Barry Marcus
Marcus & Marcus
737 N. 7th St., Boise ID 83702
(208) 342-3563

Before ANDERSON and ALARCON, Circuit Judges, and WILLIAMS, District Judge.*