Clouser v. Espy

42 F.3d 1522 (1994)

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Clouser v. Espy

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
42 F.3d 1522 (1994)

  • Written by Tanya Munson, JD

Facts

Carl, Judith, and Anthony Setera owned the Thunderbolt mining claim in the Umatilla National Forest in Oregon. The claims were withdrawn from mineral entry and became part of the North Fork John Day Wilderness Area in 1984 pursuant to the Wilderness Act of 1964. In 1988, the Seteras filed a notice of intent and plan of operations proposing the use of a suction dredge and other equipment to test the Thunderbolt claim. Forest trails to the claim had been gated and blocked from traffic in 1984 when the land was designated as part of the wilderness area. The Seteras proposed motorized access over two trails. The forest supervisor issued a decision that restricted the Seteras to use pack animals or other nonmotorized means to access the claim because the proposed operation was limited, and motorized access was not essential. In 1989, the Seteras proposed another plan of operations, proposing the use of a five-inch suction dredge and motorized access on the same two trails. The forest supervisor determined that the plan could not be approved as submitted because the low level of proposed operations and the Forest Service’s statutory mandate to preserve the wilderness characteristics of the lands the trails were on required that vehicle access be limited to nonmotorized means. The forest supervisor directed the Seteras to amend the proposal to instead use horses or other nonmotorized means. The Seteras appealed. The deputy regional forester affirmed the forest supervisor’s decision. The Seteras filed suit against the Secretary of Agriculture and various Forest Service and Department of Interior officials (government officials) (defendants) seeking declaratory and injunctive relief to require the forest supervisor to grant the Seteras motorized access to the Thunderbolt claim. The district court granted summary judgment for the government officials, and the Seteras appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Henderson, J.)

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