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Fallini v. Hodel

963 F.2d 275 (1992)

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Fallini v. Hodel

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

963 F.2d 275 (1992)

Facts

In 1967, Joe, Susan, and Helen Fallini (defendants) received a permit from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to operate a well on public land for their cattle ranch. The BLM was part of the Department of the Interior run by Secretary Donald P. Hodel (defendant). The permit was issued under the Taylor Grazing Act (grazing act), which Congress enacted to protect cattle growers by allowing them to use public land. The Fallinis’ permit required that the water from the well be accessible to wildlife and that improvements affecting access must receive BLM approval. When the permit was first issued, there were no wild horses within the area. However, after Congress passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, several hundred wild horses began grazing on the land. The Fallinis erected guardrails around the well to prevent the wild horses from grazing on the land. The Fallinis constructed the guardrails in such a manner that allowed other wildlife within the area to continue accessing the well and the surrounding land. The BLM informed the Fallinis that the construction was in violation of their permit. After the Fallinis failed to remove the guardrails, the BLM canceled their permit. The Fallinis appealed to an administrative law judge. The judge reversed the BLM. The BLM appealed to the Interior Board of Land Appeals (the board). The board reversed the judge. The Fallinis appealed to the district court. The district-court judge reversed the board. The judge based the decision on the fact that the drafters of the permit and the grazing act had not intended for wild horses to constitute wildlife. The matter was appealed again.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Goodwin, J.)

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