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Avoyelles Sportsmen’s League v. Marsh
United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
715 F.2d 897 (1983)
Private landowners (defendants) owned a 20,000-acre tract of land in the Red River backwater area. The tract was forested, but the land was part of a river basin and was subject to flooding. The landowners sought to clear the land for soybean production. The landowners used bulldozers and backhoes to clear the land. Some of the vegetation was buried, or redeposited, in holes that had been dug during the clearing process. The Avoyelles Sportsmen’s League and other environmental groups (collectively, environmental groups) (plaintiffs) filed suit against the United States Army Corps of Engineers (the corps) (defendant), the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (defendant), and the private landowners, claiming that the landowners’ land-clearing activity would result in the discharge of fill material into the waters of the United States in violation of the Clean Water Act. The environmental groups sought a declaration that the private landowners were barred from engaging in land-clearing activities without a permit from the EPA or the corps pursuant to § 404 of the Clean Water Act. The district court found that the private landowners’ land-clearing activity required a permit because it constituted a discharge of a pollutant under the Clean Water Act. The corps, EPA, and private landowners appealed, arguing that the mere removal of wetlands vegetation was not a discharge of a pollutant.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Randall, J.)
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