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TULARE COUNTY v. BUSH
September 28, 2001
TULARE COUNTY ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
GEORGE W. BUSH ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Urbina, District Judge.
GRANTING THE DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS
On April 15, 2000, pursuant to the Antiquities Act of 1906, President
Clinton issued a proclamation establishing the Giant Sequoia National
Monument ("the Monument"). Proclamation Number 7295 ("the Proclamation")
declared that the Monument would encompass 327,769 acres of land in the
Sequoia National Forest in southern central California. According to the
Antiquities Act, the President may, "in his discretion," designate
federal land as a national Monument when it includes "historic
landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of
historic or scientific interest." See 16 U.S.C. § 431.
The plaintiffs in this action are various individuals and groups that
have interests in the use of the Sequoia National Forest land within the
boundaries of the Monument. The plaintiffs filed this action against the
defendants, President Clinton and various other entities of the United
States government, seeking declaratory relief. The plaintiffs allege that
the Proclamation and the Forest Service's current implementation of the
Proclamation violate the Antiquities Act, the National Forest Management
Act ("NFMA"), 16 U.S.C. § 1600 et seq., the National Environmental
Policy Act ("NEPA"), 42 U.S.C. § 4321 et seq., the Administrative
Procedure Act ("APA"), 5 U.S.C. § 701 et seq., the plaintiffs'
rights, and the Property Clause of the Constitution, U.S. CONST. art.
IV, § 3, cl. 2. This matter is before the court on the defendants'
motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction or,
alternatively, for failure to state a claim on which relief can be
granted. For the reasons that follow, the court will grant the
defendants' motion to dismiss.
Regarding the use of land included in the Monument, the Proclamation
provides for "continued public and recreational access and use consistent
with the purposes of the monument." See id. at 24097. The Proclamation
states that "[t]he establishment of this monument is subject to valid
existing rights." See id. at 24097. The Proclamation also provides for
the continuing existence of timber sales under contract on the date of
the Proclamation and states that the Proclamation will not affect
existing special use authorizations. See id. at 24097-98. As to the
management of the Monument, the Forest Service shall manage the
Monument, "pursuant to applicable legal authorities, to implement the
purposes and provisions of this proclamation." Id. at 24097. Finally, the
Proclamation gives the Secretary of Agriculture three years from the date
of the Proclamation to develop an official management plan for the
Monument. See id.
Tulare County, one of the plaintiffs, is a county in the State of
California that holds land near and within the Monument. See Compl.
¶ 12. Other plaintiffs include Sierra Forest Products, High Desert
Multiple-Use Coalition, Kent Duysen, Sierra Nevada Access Multiple-Use
& Stewardship Coalition, Sugarloafers Snowmobile Association,
Montecito-Sequoia Camp, and Navelencia Resource Conservation District.
See Compl. ¶¶ 12-77. Generally speaking, the plaintiffs use the
Monument area for business and recreational purposes. See id.
Two of the plaintiffs, Sierra Forest Products and High Desert
Multiple-Use Coalition were involved in an administrative appeal of the
Land and Resource Plan, the Forest Service's management plan for the
Sequoia National Forest. See Compl. ¶¶ 87-89; Pls.' Opp'n at 39. The
Forest Service adopted this Land and Resource Plan in 1988 to preserve
old-growth Giant Sequoias. See Compl. ¶ 87. In 1990, these
plaintiffs, other appellants of the management plan, and the Forest
Service entered into a Mediated Settlement Agreement ("MSA") with the
Forest Service. See Compl. ¶ 89.
On October 25, 2000, the plaintiffs, seeking declaratory relief, filed
a complaint, alleging nine claims: (1) the Proclamation violates the
Antiquities Act because the alleged objects of historic and scientific
interest have not been identified with reasonable specificity; (2) the
Proclamation violates the Antiquities Act because it designates
non-qualifying objects as the basis for the Monument; (3) the
Proclamation violates the Antiquities Act because the size of the
Monument is not confined to the smallest area compatible; (4) the
Proclamation violates the Antiquities Act because it increases the
likelihood of harm to any objects of alleged historic and scientific
interest within the Monument; (5) the Proclamation violates the Property
Clause of the Constitution; (6) the Proclamation violates the NFMA by
withdrawing land from the National Forest System; (7) the current
management by the Forest Service of the Monument is in violation of the
NFMA and its forest planning regulations; (8) the current management of
the Monument is in violation of the NEPA; and (9) the Proclamation
violates valid existing rights, including those contained in the Mediated
Settlement Agreement. See Compl. ¶¶ 131-204.
The plaintiffs allege that the Monument is physically over-inclusive.
See Pls.' Opp'n at 1. According to the plaintiffs, the "Giant Sequoia
groves constitute only about 20,000 acres or 6% of Monument area." See
id. Also, the plaintiffs charge that the Forest Service's current
management of the Monument area significantly decreases timber sales,
recreational uses, and rights of access to the Monument. See Compl.
On March 23, 2001, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss under both
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), lack of jurisdiction, and Rule
12(b)(6), failure to state a claim on which relief could be granted. See
Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss ("Mot. to Dismiss") at 1.
A. Legal Standard for Motion to Dismiss
In reviewing a motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter
jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1), the court must accept all the
complaint's well-pled factual allegations as true and draw all reasonable
inferences in the plaintiffs favor. See, e.g., Pitney Bowes v. United
States Postal Serv., 27 F. Supp.2d 15, 19 (D.D.C. 1998) (Urbina, J.). On
a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), the plaintiff bears the
burden of establishing that the court has jurisdiction. See District of
Columbia Retirement Rd. v. United States, 657 F. Supp. 428, 431 (D.D.C.
1987). In evaluating whether subject-matter jurisdiction exists, the
court must accept all uncontroverted, well-pleaded facts as true and
attribute all reasonable inferences to the plaintiffs. See Scheuer v.
Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236, 94 S.Ct. 1683, 40 L.Ed.2d 90 (1974),
overturned on other grounds by Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 102
S.Ct. 2727, 73 L.Ed.2d 396 (1982). The Court is not required, however, to
accept inferences unsupported by the facts alleged or legal conclusions
that are cast as factual allegations. See, e.g., Lawrence v. Dunbar,
919 F.2d 1525, 1529 (11th Cir. 1990).
Moreover, the court need not limit itself to the allegations of the
complaint. See Hohri v. United States, 782 F.2d 227, 241 (D.C.Cir.
1986), vacated on other grounds by 482 U.S. 64, 107 S.Ct. 2246, 96
L.Ed.2d 51 (1987). Rather, the court may consider such materials outside
the pleadings as it deems appropriate to determine whether it has
jurisdiction in the case. See Herbert v. National Academy of Sciences,
974 F.2d 192, 197 (D.C.Cir. 1992).
For a complaint to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, it need
only provide a short and plain statement of the claim and the grounds on
which it rests. See FED.R.CIV.P. 8(a)(2); Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41,
47, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957). A motion to dismiss under Rule
12(b)(6) tests not whether the plaintiff will prevail on the merits, but
instead whether the plaintiff has properly stated a claim. See
FED.R.CIV.P. 12(b)(6); Scheuer, 416 U.S. at 236, 94 S.Ct. 1683. The
plaintiff need not plead the elements of a primafacie case in the
complaint. See Sparrow v. United Air Lines, Inc., 216 F.3d 1111, 1114
(D.C.Cir. 2000). Thus, the court may dismiss a complaint for failure to
state a claim only if it is clear that no relief could be granted under
any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations.
See Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73, 104 S.Ct. 2229, 81
L.Ed.2d 59 (1984); Atchinson v. District of Columbia, 73 F.3d 418, 422
(D.C.Cir. 1996). Moreover, the court should draw all reasonable
inferences in the nonmovant's favor. See Judicial Watch, Inc. v.
Clinton, 880 F. Supp. 1, 7 (D.D.C. 1995).
B. The Court Dismisses Counts One Through Four Because the Proclamation
Does Not Violate the Antiquities Act
In Counts One through Four, the plaintiffs allege that the Proclamation
violates the Antiquities Act in various ways. See Compl. ¶¶ 131-60.
Reviewing the Proclamation on its face, this court determines that there
is no set of facts on which the plaintiffs could demonstrate that the
Proclamation violates the Antiquities Act. Consequently, the court
dismisses Counts One through Four pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6).
The Antiquities Act authorizes the President of the United States:
in his discretion, to declare by public proclamation
historic landmarks . . . and other objects of historic
and scientific interest that are situated upon lands
owned or controlled by the Government of the United
States to be national monuments, and may reserve as a
part thereof parcels of land, the limits of which in
all cases shall be confined to the ...