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National Forest Preservation Group v. Butz

ELR Citation: 3 ELR 20783
Nos. No. 72-1998, 485 F.2d 408/5 ERC 1863/(9th Cir., 09/10/1973) Rev'd & remanded

Two transactions in which the Forest Service exchanged government land in and near Yellowstone National Park for land patented to a private company, which then conveyed its acquisition to a developer for construction of a recreational development, are reviewable by the court ans fall under the requirements of NEPA since they are analogous to "enablement" through federal funding. Although the environmental impact statement was filed after the initial decision approving the exchanges, the record shows that the Forest Service did consider environmental factors, and thus the transactions complied with NEPA. The record does not show, however, that the strictures of the General Exchange Act of 1922 and an Act of 1926 regarding "non-mineral" and "equal-value" limitations were adhered to, and in any case, the Forest Service clearly did not satisfy the congressional intent that adequate notice of the time and nature of such exchanges be given to enable local persons opposed to an exchange to protest it. Since the Act of 1926 applies to land within Yellowstone while the General Exchange Act governs land outside the Park, the case is reversed and remanded with directions that the tracts in Exchange No. 2 be itemized and evidence taken on whether the applicable statutory limitations have been obeyed.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
James H. Goetz
Box 491
Bozeman, MT 59715

Counsel for Defendants
Otis Packwood U.S. Attorney
U.S. Courthouse
310 N. 26th Street
Billings, MT 59101

Eva Datz
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice
Washington, DC 20530

Cale J. Crowley
Crowley, Kilbourne, Haughey, Hanson & Gallagher
P.O. Box 2529
Billings, MT 59103

Richard Wicka Asst. Counsel
Burlington Northern Railroad
St. Paul, MN 55101