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Utah v. Andrus

Citation: 10 ELR 20570
No. Nos. C79-0037, -0307, 486 F. Supp. 995/(D. Utah, 10/01/1979)

In a case of first impression, the court holds that the state and its lessee have a right of access to mining claims on state school trust lands surrounded by federal lands with wilderness potential and that access to the claims may be regulated to preserve wilderness potential so long as economic development is not prohibited. Utah, upon its entry into the Union, was granted federal lands in order to provide funds for educational institutions. The state lands, however, are encircled by federal lands that are currently being studied for the wilderness potential under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA). Cotter Corp., a mining company, sought access across the federal lands to exploit both its mining claims on federal lands and its rights as Utah's lessee on the state school trust lands. The court notes that § 603 of FLPMA amended the Mining Law of 1872 to allow the Bureau of Land Management to regulate post-passage uses of wilderness study lands to the extent necessary to prevent permanent impairment of wilderness characteristics. The court thus holds that the state and its lessee must have access across the federal lands and that such access can be restricted to the extent it does not render the state lands incapable of their full economic development. The court leaves several issues open for fuller development of the record: first, whether Cotter's reclamation plans for road and drilling operations are feasible and will not result in a permanent impairment of wilderness values; second, whether land access is necessary to exploit both the federal claims and the claims on state lands; and third, whether restricting access to the federal claims will result in a taking.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Robert B. Hansen, Attorney General; Richard L. Dewsnup, Dallin W. Jensen, Ass't Attorneys General
State Capitol, Salt Lake City UT 84114
(801) 533-5261

Counsel for Defendants
Ronald L. Rencher, U.S. Attorney; James R. Holbrook, Ass't U.S. Attorney
200 Post Office and Courthouse Bldg., 350 S. Main St., Salt Lake City UT 84101
(801) 524-5685

Dale A. Kimball
Martineau, Rooker, Larsen & Kimball
1800 Beneficial Life Tower, 36 S. State St., Salt Lake City UT 84111
(801) 532-7840

John D. Havens
9305 W. Alameda Parkway, Lakewood CO 80226
(303) 233-8558

Counsel for Amicus Curiae American Mining Congress
Mary Jane Due
American Mining Congress
Room 1100, Ring Bldg., 1200 18th St. NW, Washington DC 20036
(202) 861-2800

Counsel for Amicus Curiae Mountain States Legal Foundation et al.
James G. Watt, Kea L. Bardeen
Mountain States Legal Foundation
1845 Sherman St., Denver CO 80203
(303) 861-0244