This is usually Jon territory, but since it’s in Colorado…
Interesting story by Jason Blevins at the Colorado Sun. Basically the plaintiffs are charging that ANILCA shouldn’t apply outside Alaska. Calling its use by Supervisor Fitzwilliams an “artful dodge” (plaintiffian hyperbole) is kind of silly in my view. TSW veterans of the great Village at Wolf Creek controversy (or as I called it “reasonable access for unreasonable people”) and other access issues across the country will know that Scott didn’t just dream it up.. after all, as the article says, the FS has been using the legal precedent since the 9th Circuit called it in 1981, and is certainly what FS folks are told by their lawyers.
has been deployed many times in the West and in Colorado to force the Forest Service to provide roads across public land to access islands of private property.
To me it says reasonable access and reasonable is in the eye of the beholder. Should this be changed to “not required to provide any kind of access?” Seems to me that that question should go back to Congress. Many of us could help with stories on the difficulties of interpreting “reasonable,” and ideas for useful clarifications. That’s one reason I prefer not to let courts handle these things..they can say what’s wrong, but can’t tell us what’s right, or what could work better.
Extra points to Jason for explaining this complex stuff accurately (or at least as far as I can tell) and attaching the complaint and a link to the precedent case Montana Wilderness Association v. US Forest Service. And Bob Zybach and others will appreciate that he spelled out how to pronounce FLPMA and ANILCA. If you appreciate his work, please consider sending him a note. Remember that old management idea “catch people doing something right”?
You don’t hear much about FLPMA and the Forest Service, since FLPMA is generally regarded as a BLM statute, based on the definition of public lands in it. See here.
This Complaint involves Forest Service decisions regarding National Forest System lands in Western Colorado. Defendants applied the mandatory access provisions of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980, 16 U.S.C. §§ 3101 et seq. (“ANILCA”) instead of the discretionary access provisions in the Federal Land and Policy Management Act of 1976 (“FLPMA”) that apply to federal public lands outside of Alaska, including National Forests. 43 U.S.C. § 1740 of 1976 (“Secretary of Agriculture, with respect to lands within the National Forest System, shall promulgate rules and regulations to carry out the purposes of [FLPMA]” when considering access requests.). The National Forest Management Act of 1976, 16 U.S.C. § 1600 et seq., (“NFMA”) also applies to the National Forests, but because access issues were inadvertently omitted from NFMA, the access provisions involving National Forests were included in FLPMA. Applying ANILCA’s Alaska-specific provisions to an access request
involving the National Forest in the Lower 48 States is contrary to the plain language of ANILCA and FLPMA.
It sounds like the FS was supposed to promulgate rules in NFMA.. did they? Lands people out there?
Check out the judges’ decision in that case, which goes back to mind-curdling details of the legislative history. And it returns to Colorado.
The appellees, however, have uncovered subsequent legislative history that, given the closeness of the issue, is decisive. Three weeks after Congress passed the Alaska Lands Act, a House-Senate Conference Committee considering the Colorado Wilderness Act interpreted § 1323 of the Alaska Lands Act as applying nation-wide:
Section 7 of the Senate amendment contains a provision pertaining to access to non-Federally owned lands within national forest wilderness areas in Colorado. The House bill has no such provision.
The conferees agreed to delete the section because similar language has already passed Congress in Section 1323 of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.
Should be an interesting case..
The specific White River case seems to be about a summer only unpaved road being changed to an all-season paved road. We discussed it here, but it seemed like that story was used to take a swipe at Trump-era NEPA regs. And yet, here we still are…