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Montana Wilderness Ass'n v. U.S. Forest Serv.

ELR Citation: 11 ELR 20521
Nos. No. 89-3374, 655 F.2d 951/16 ERC 1449/(9th Cir., 05/14/1981)

The court holds that, under §1323(a) of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (Alaska Lands Act), Burlington Northern, Inc., has a right-of-access to its timberland inholdings within the Gallatin National Forest. Section 1323(a) requires the Secretary of Agriculture to provide access to nonfederally owned land within the boundaries of the National Forest System. Although the context of §1323(a) suggests that it was intended to apply only to land within the state of Alaska, a subsequent conference committee report on the Colorado Wilderness Act interpreted §1323(a) as applying nationwide. The court views the conference committee's interpretation as persuasive, since the conferees carefully considered the issue, had intimate knowledge of the Alaska Lands Act, and relied on their interpretation when omitting an access provision from the Colorado Wilderness Act.

[In an order accompanying this decision, the court withdrew its May 14, 1981, decision in the same matter — Ed.]

Counsel for Appellants
David Booth Beers
Shea & Gardner
1800 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington DC 20036
(202) 823-2000

James H. Goetz
Goetz & Madden
P.O. Box 1322, Bozeman MT 59715
(406) 587-0618

Counsel for Appellees
Dirk D. Snel
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-4400

Kurt W. Korschel, Regional Counsel; Gary H. Peterson, Associate Regional Counsel
Burlington Northern, Inc.
1003 First Northwestern Bank Center, Billings MT 59101
(406) 657-8387

Before ANDERSON and NORRIS, Circuit Judges, and SCHWARZER,* District Judge.