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Kissimmee River Valley Sportsman Ass'n v. Lakeland, City of

ELR Citation: 31 ELR 20617
Nos. No. 99-13951, 250 F.3d 1324/(11th Cir., 05/10/2001)

The court holds that the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Recreation Act and its regulations do not create a federal right of equal access for boats with common horsepower ratings and, therefore, a Florida city ordinance prohibiting the operation of airboats on the city's lakes does not violate such a right. A sportsman association claimed that its members have a federal right of equal access under 42 U.S.C. §1983 to the city's lakes regardless of the type of boat used. The association argued that a regulation under the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Recreation Act created the claimed right to equal access. The regulation at issue has two parts. First, it provides that 10% of all funds be allocated for recreational boating access facilities. Second, it states that facilities funded under the Act must accommodate power boats with common horsepower ratings. The court first holds that although the regulation and the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Recreation Act may contemplate improvement of access generally for recreational boating, it does not create an equal access right because the regulation is too far removed from congressional intent to create this enforceable right. Nothing in the statute suggests a right based on equality or comparability. In fact, the regulation imposes new and distinct obligations not found in the statute itself and, thus, is too far removed from congressional intent to constitute a federal right enforceable under 42 U.S.C. §1983.

The full text of this decision is available from ELR (8 pp., ELR Order No. L-365).

Counsel for Plaintiff
Gale Porter
Law Offices of Gale Porter
314 E. Harrison St., Tampa FL 33608
(813) 225-1010

Counsel for Defendant
Stephen B. French
Bush, Ross, Gardner, Warren & Rudy
220 S. Franklin St., Tampa FL 33602
(813) 224-9255

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