Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Citizens For Balanced Use v. Erickson

Jul 26: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Case No. 10-35823. As explained by the Appeals Court, three conservation groups, Montana Wilderness Association, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, and The Wilderness Society (collectively, Applicants) appeal from the denial of their motion to intervene on the side of the defendants in an action brought by Citizens for Balanced Use (CBU) against Mary Erickson, in her official capacity as Supervisor of the Gallatin National Forest, and the United States Forest Service (Forest Service).
    In the underlying action, CBU challenged an interim order issued by the Forest Service in response to an adverse decision in prior litigation brought by Applicants. That interim order, which is the subject of this litigation, restricted motorized and mechanized vehicle use in a section of the Gallatin National Forest. CBU alleged that the challenged interim order violated the Montana Wilderness Study Act of 1977 (MWSA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) because it unduly restricted the use or possession of snowmobiles, tracked ATVs, and other over-snow vehicles.
    The Appeals Court said, "Because we conclude that Applicants satisfied the four requirements for intervention as of right under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a), we reverse and remand with instructions that the district court allow Applicants to intervene and become parties to the ongoing litigation, and that the district court take reasonable steps to put Applicants on equal footing with the original parties so as to ensure their opportunity for participation."
    The Appeals Court concluded, "Applicants showed, in a timely-filed motion, that they have a significant protectable interest in this action, that the disposition may impair their ability to protect that interest, and that the Forest Service may not adequately represent their interest. Applicants are entitled to intervene under Rule 24(a). We reverse and remand with instructions that Applicants be made parties to the litigation and that the district court promptly 'take all reasonable steps to put the new parties on equal footing with the original parties.' California ex rel. Lockyer, 450 F.3d at 445. Because the district court may soon rule on dispositive motions that could affect Applicants' interests, time is of the essence; the clerk is instructed to issue the mandate forthwith."
    Access the complete opinion (click here). [#Land, #CA9]

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