Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

ROCK CREEK PACK STATION, INC. v. BLACKWELL

November 10, 2004.

ROCK CREEK PACK STATION, INC., et. al. Plaintiffs,
v.
JACK BLACKWELL, Regional Forester, Region 5 of the United States Forest Service; et. al. Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROYCE LAMBERTH, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter comes before the Court on the defendants' motion to dismiss and motion for summary judgment, and the plaintiffs' cross-motion for summary judgment. The defendants' move to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The defendants and plaintiffs both move for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on the ground that no genuine issue of material fact exists and therefore they, respectively, are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The defendants submitted a motion and memorandum in support of their motion, a memorandum in opposition to the plaintiffs' summary judgment motion, and a reply to the plaintiffs' opposition to their motion. The plaintiffs submitted a motion and memorandum in support of their summary judgment motion, a memorandum in opposition to the defendants' motion, and a reply to the defendants' opposition to their summary judgment motion. Upon consideration of the parties' filings, the applicable law, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the facts of this case, the Court previously found that the defendants' motion to dismiss and for summary judgment should be GRANTED because the plaintiffs lack standing. Rock Creek Pack Station, Inc., et. al. v. Blackwell, et. al., No. 03-330, consolidated with No. 03-353 (D.D.C. Sept. 30, 2004) (order granting defendants' motion to dismiss and for summary judgment). Because the plaintiffs lacked standing, the remaining motions were rendered moot; the Court therefore does not address the issues in the remaining motions of the parties. This memorandum opinion explains the rationale behind the Court's Order.

I. BACKGROUND

  A. The Parties

  The plaintiffs are Rock Creek Pack Station, Inc. and High Sierra Packers' Association — Eastern Unit. Plaintiffs are commonly referred to as pack stations. Specifically, Rock Creek is a commercial enterprise that provides recreational pack services to persons visiting the wilderness areas in question. (Rock Creek Compl. ¶ 13). High Sierra is an association of commercial entities that provide horses, mules and burros to the public for trips into the wilderness areas in question. (High Sierra Compl. ¶ 5).*fn1

  The defendants are various Government officials and entities. Specifically, the named defendants are Jack Blackwell, Regional Forester, Region 5 of the United States Forest Service; Jeffrey Bailey, Supervisor, Inyo National Forest; James Boynton, Supervisor, Sierra National Forest; Dale Bosworth, Chief, United States Forest Service; the United States Forest Service; Ann Veneman, Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture; and the United States Department of Agriculture ("defendants"). B. The Wilderness Areas in Question

  The three wilderness areas in question are located in the central and southern Sierra Nevada mountains in eastern California. (Administrative R. Doc. No. 1 ("ARD 1"), Wilderness Management Plan, at 1, Apr. 2001). The John Muir Wilderness Area was created in 1964 by the original Wilderness Act. (Id.). In 1984 it was enlarged by 81,000 acres and currently consists of approximately 580,323 acres. (Id.). The Ansel Adams Wilderness Area, formerly known as the Minarets Wilderness Area, was created in 1964. (Id.). It was enlarged by 119,000 acres in 1984 by the California Wilderness Act and currently consists of approximately 230,000 acres. (Id.). The California Wilderness Act established the Dinkey Lakes Wilderness Area as well. (Id.). This 30,000 acre area is located entirely within the Sierra National Forest. (ARD 1 at 2).

  C. Wilderness Area Management Plans

  The wilderness areas in question are governed by a Land and Resource Management Plan ("LRMP"). A LRMP is a programmatic level forest-wide plan setting overall management direction, standards, and guidelines for a National Forest. (Administrative R. Doc. 18, Revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement ("EIS"), Glossary at 3, Apr. 2000). A National Forest may contain multiple wilderness areas, all of which would be subject to the LRMP established for the National Forest of which they are a part.

  The John Muir, Ansel Adams, and Dinkey Lakes Wilderness Areas fall under the jurisdiction of the Sierra LRMP (1991) and the Inyo LRMP (1988). (Administrative R. Doc. 3 ("ARD 3"), Final EIS, Chapter 1 at 2, Mar. 2001). Each LRMP currently contains general management direction applicable to all respective wilderness areas within each forest. (Id.). This direction includes multiple use goals and objectives, forest-wide standards and guidelines, management area prescriptions, and monitoring and evaluation requirements. (Id.). In 1979, the Forest Service adopted Wilderness Management Plans for the John Muir and Ansel Adams Wilderness Areas. (ARD 1 at 5).

  At issue before the Court is the defendant's adoption of a new Wilderness Management Plan for the John Muir, Ansel Adams, and Dinkey Lakes Wilderness Areas in April 2001. The 2001 Wilderness Management Plan amends the LRMPs on both the Sierra and Inyo National Forests to provide more specific, updated and consistent direction for management of the John Muir, Ansel Adams, and Dinkey Lakes Wilderness Areas. (Id.). It supercedes the 1979 wilderness plans for the John Muir and Ansel Adams Wilderness Areas. (Id.) An explanation of the process leading up to the adoption of the 2001 Wilderness Management Plan follows.

  The Inyo and Sierra Forest LRMPs incorporated the John Muir (1979) and Minarets Wilderness Management Plans (1978). (ARD 3, Chapter 1 at 2). The Forest Service proposed to amend the plans to provide for new management direction. In 1997, the Forest Service released an EIS covering the John Muir, Ansel Adams, and Dinkey Lakes Wilderness Areas to analyze various alternatives for managing these wilderness areas. (ARD 3, Summ. at 1). After almost one year of public review and after receiving over 2,000 comment letters, the Forest Service issued a revised EIS. (Id.). The Forest Service released the revised draft EIS in August of 2000, and received about 1,700 comment letters. (Id.). After reviewing the letters and completing additional field analysis, the Forest Service issued the final EIS in March of 2001. (Id.). In April 2001, the Forest Service issued its Record of Decision, (Administrative R. Doc. No. 2 ("ARD 2"), Final EIS, R. of Decision, Apr. 2001), which established the joint 2001 Wilderness Management Plan for the John Muir, Ansel Adams, and Dinkey Lakes Wilderness Areas and includes non-significant amendments to the LRMPs for the Sierra and Inyo National Forests. (ARD 2, R. of Decision at 1).

  The Forest Service analyzed five management alternatives and chose an alternative that combines existing management direction with strategies from two alternatives. (ARD 3, Summ. at 5). The selected alternative created three categories of management in the wilderness areas. (Id.). Categories 1 and 2 consist of large areas managed for low and moderate use levels, while Category 3 consists of small, confined areas of more concentrated visitor use that coincide with historical areas of high use. (Id.).

  The Wilderness Management Plan maintains the level of commercial use at the levels that existed before the plan, but reduces uses in certain areas where limiting factors indicate that such action is necessary to alleviate impacts. (Id.). The Wilderness Management Plan also attempts to achieve equitable use between commercial and non-commercial users by proposing changes to commercial operations on gaining access to the wilderness. (Id.).

  The Forest Service explained the reasoning for choosing the preferred alternative in the Record of Decision, which was issued in April 2001. (ARD 2). Following the Forest Service's adoption of the Wilderness Management Plan, the plaintiffs each filed timely administrative appeals pursuant to 36 C.F.R. Part 217 (2000). (Administrative R. Doc. 6, Rock Creek Notice of Appeal; Administrative R. Doc. 8, High Sierra Notice of Appeal; Administrative R. Doc. 10, Backcountry Notice of Appeal). The Deputy Regional Forester affirmed the decision made in each appeal. (Administrative R. Docs. 7,9,11, Deputy Regional Forester Decisions). The plaintiffs then filed suit in federal district court. D. The Suit Before This Court

  The plaintiffs assert jurisdiction under numerous federal statutes and make numerous claims against the defendants. In their complaints, the plaintiffs allege that the defendants' new Wilderness Management Plan for the John Muir and Ansel Adams Wilderness Areas violates the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 4321-4370d, by failing to prepare an EIS that carefully analyzes environmental aspects of proposed alternatives. (Rock Creek Compl. ¶¶ 53-58; see generally High Sierra Compl. p. 20). The plaintiffs further allege that the adoption of the Wilderness Management Plan pursuant to its final EIS violates the Wilderness Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1131-1136, which created the wilderness areas at issue. (Rock Creek Compl. ¶¶ 59-61; See generally High Sierra Compl. p. 20). The plaintiffs also assert this Court has jurisdiction under the Administrative Procedures Act ("APA"), 5 U.S.C. § ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.