Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

State ex rel. Andrus v. Click

Citation: 6 ELR 20805
No. No. 11926, 554 P.2d 969/97 Idaho 791, (Idaho, 09/24/1976)

Reversing a lower court, the Idaho Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of the Idaho Dredge and Placer Mining Protection Act as applied to upatented mining claims on federal land. The state sought to enjoin defendants' dredge mining operation in the St. Joe National Forest, which defendant conducted without a permit as specified by the Act. The trial court dissolved a preliminary injunction granted against defendants and declared the Act to be an unconstitutional infringement of congressional power under the Property Clause of the Constitution (art. 4, § 3). Although Congress retains absolute power over federal property, states retain jurisdiction over federal lands within their borders absent congressional action. In this case, the Idaho Act, which requires mining permits and subsequent restoration of mined lands, does not conflict with, and therefore is not expressly preempted by, the federal Mining Law of 1872, 30 U.S.C. §§ 21 et seq., even though mining may become more difficult under the Act. Nor is there any implied intent in the Mining Law to preempt state regulation of mining activities because the federal law is not a pervasive statutory scheme and the subject matter regulated, the preservation of the environmental quality of lands, is particularly suited to state administration. Moreover, although the Mining Law did not voice a concern for environmental quality, recent congressional enactments, including the Mining and Minerals Policy Act of 1970, 30 U.S.C. § 21a, and NEPA, show a congressional intent that development on federal lands must minimize adverse environmental impact.

The court dismisses defendants' other contentions. The Act is within the state's police power to regulate health, safety and welfare; its protection of aesthetic values is supported by other legitimate purposes. The Act's regulatory provisions, including requirements for bond, owner notice, inspection, and restoration, are reasonably related to the Act's police-power purposes. Therefore, the Act does not unconstitutionally take private property without compensation. Similarly, the Act's procedural requirements for notice and hearings, including the provision allowing creation (before attachment) for a lien without notice, do not violate due process. Finally, the court holds that the Act neither denies equal protection of the law nor improperly delegates legislative power.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Wayne L. Kidwell, Attorney General
Terry E. Coffin, Deputy Attorney General
State House
Boise ID 83720
(208) 384-2400

Counsel for Defendants
Barry Marcus
Marcus & Marcus
625 Idaho First National Bank Bldg.
Boise ID 83701
(208) 342-3563

Counsel for Amicus Curiae State of Wyoming
V. Frank Mendicino, Attorney General
Steve F. Freudenthal, Special Asst. Attorney General
210 State Capitol
Cheyenne WY 82002
(307) 777-7384

Donaldson, J.; McFadden, C.J., Shepard and Bistline, JJ., and Scoggin, D.J. retired, concur.