E. B. Weiss and other owners of unpatented mining claims (owners) (defendants) engaged in mining operations within the St. Joe National Forest in Idaho. The owners did not comply with federal regulations that required an approved operating plan before mining. These regulations had been promulgated by the secretary of agriculture (secretary) under the authority of sections 478 and 551 of the Organic Administration Act of 1897 (OAA), 16 U.S.C. §§ 478 and 551. The United States (government) (plaintiff) sued the owners to compel their compliance with the secretary’s regulations. The district court granted summary judgment for the government. The owners appealed, arguing that the regulations were not promulgated under adequate statutory authority. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit considered whether sections 478 and 551 of the OAA authorized the secretary to regulate mining operations in national forests.