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Park Lake Resources Ltd. Liab. Co. v. Department of Agric.

ELR Citation: 30 ELR 20199
Nos. No. 98-1020, 197 F.3d 448/(10th Cir., 11/19/1999)

The court dismisses as unripe mining associations' claim that the U.S. Forest Service arbitrarily and capriciously designated land straddling the Hoosier Ridge in Colorado as a research natural area (RNA). The court first holds that the mining associations' claim is not fit for judicial review. Although the RNA designation is deemed a final administrative action by regulation, it is still subject to agency activity with regard to the mining associations' activities. The associations located mining claims on the land just prior to the Forest Service's designation, but they have yet to submit a proposed plan of operations. Therefore, while mining activities may occur on RNA land, the Forest Service has a plethora of statutory and regulatory provisions upon which it might rely when and if it requires modifications prior to its approval of the associations' plan of operations. Any attempt to foresee which specific regulation or statute the Forest Service might rely upon when reviewing the mining associations' plan is an exercise in speculative gymnastics. The court next holds that withholding review will not cause the mining associations any harm. The associations have failed to establish they felt any effects from the RNA designation. The only claimed injury is from the Forest Service's refusal to review the proposed plan. However, the refusal was a result of the pending litigation, not because of the designation itself.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
William P. Pendley
Mountain States Legal Foundation
1660 Lincoln St., Ste. 2300, Denver CO 80264
(303) 861-0244

Counsel for Defendants
Andrew C. Mergen
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000

Before Porfilio and Kelly, JJ.