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United States v. Curtis-Nevada Mines, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
611 F.2d 1277 (1980)


Facts

Curtis-Nevada Mines, Inc. (Curtis-Nevada) (defendant) located and filed unpatented mining claims on federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the United States Forest Service (USFS). BLM and USFS regulations allowed the public to use the land for general recreational activities without obtaining a permit. However, Curtis-Nevada posted no-trespassing signs and constructed barricades in order to exclude hunters, hikers, and other recreational users from the land. The federal government (government) (plaintiff) sued Curtis-Nevada in district court, asserting the public’s rights to use the land. The district court considered the meaning of “other surface resources” and “permittees and licensees” under § 4(b) of the Surface Resources Act of 1955 (Act), 30 U.S.C. § 612(b). Section 4(b) provided that mining-claim rights were subject to the government’s right to manage other surface resources and the permittees and licensees’ right to use the land. Section 4(b) also provided that land use by permittees and licensees could not materially interfere with mining or prospecting activities. The district court found that other surface resources clearly included recreational uses, but that permittees and licensees referred only to individuals with written permits or licenses to engage in recreational activities on public land. The government appealed the portion of the district court’s decision on permittees and licensees.

Rule of Law

The rule of law is the black letter law upon which the court rested its decision.

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Hug, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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