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Oregon Natural Desert Association v. Green

United States District Court for the District of Oregon
953 F.Supp. 1133 (1997)


Facts

In 1988, Congress designated the Donner und Blitzen Wild and Scenic River (river) as a wild river under the federal wild-and-scenic-river system. The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (Act), 16 U.S.C. § 1273(b)(1), defined wild rivers as “free of impoundments, and generally inaccessible except by trail.” Section 1283(a) of the Act required the river-management agency to closely examine any road-construction activities in the vicinity of the river. In 1991, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) (defendant) hired scientists to survey and report on sensitive plants and unique natural areas in the river corridor (corridor). The scientists prepared a report that recommended ending cattle grazing within the corridor, due to the adverse effects that grazing had on riparian vegetation. In 1993, the BLM released a river plan based on certain values that included vegetation, fish, and wildlife. The river plan authorized cattle grazing, parking-lot construction, secondary-access-road improvement, and a water-diversion project within the corridor. The Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) and other environmental groups (plaintiffs) sought an injunction to prevent the BLM from implementing the river plan. ONDA argued that the river plan failed to protect and enhance plants and fisheries as required by § 1281(a) of the Act, which required the managing agency to protect and enhance river values without limiting uses that did not substantially interfere with the public use and enjoyment of those values. The BLM claimed that its decision to allow grazing within parts of the corridor was entitled to deference, because the Act did not define the term “substantially interfere,” and because the BLM’s decision properly balanced cattle grazing with the protection and enhancement of river values.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Haggerty, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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