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Dunn-McCampbell Royalty Interest, Inc. v. National Park Service

ELR Citation: 41 ELR 20063
Nos. No. 09-40187, (5th Cir. , 01/07/2011)

The Fifth Circuit reversed a lower court decision that the National Park Service exceeded its regulatory power in violation of the APA in connection with its oil and gas management plan for the Padre Island National Seashore. The case involves a conflict between the Service and the owner of certain mineral estates in the Seashore with respect to the owner's right of ingress and egress over the Seashore's surface. Although the Service's normally broad regulatory authority over park lands is limited by the agreements between Texas and the Service that were made when the Seashore was established, these limitations do not provide the relief the owner now seeks. The Service is bound by the terms of Texas' concurrence when it deeded its land to the Service. Those terms provide, in relevant part, that owners of private land who convey land to the Service may preserve their mineral rights and the rights of ingress and egress to exploit their mineral estates for themselves and for their successors in title. These provisions, however, do not apply here because the owner is neither a grantor nor a successor in title. And while it is true that the Service must recognize the rights of ingress and egress possessed at the time of Texas' conveyance by those who remove minerals from outside the Seashore's boundaries, the owner's mineral estate is within the Seashore's boundaries. Accordingly, because the mineral estate at issue does not fall under any of the special protections provided in the Enabling Act that created the Seashore, the lower court erred in granting the owner summary judgment in favor of the owner.