18 F.3d 1468 (9th Cir. 1994), 92-36784, Northwest Motorcycle Ass'n v. United States Dept. of Agriculture

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
Citation18 F.3d 1468
Date17 March 1994
PartiesNORTHWEST MOTORCYCLE ASSOCIATION, an off road vehicle association in the State of Washington, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE; Michael Espy, [*] Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture; The United States Forest Service; F. Dale Robertson, Chief, U.S. Forest Service, Defendants-Appellees, and Washington Trails Assoc
Docket Number92-36784.

Page 1468

18 F.3d 1468 (9th Cir. 1994)

NORTHWEST MOTORCYCLE ASSOCIATION, an off road vehicle

association in the State of Washington, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE; Michael Espy,

[*] Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture;

The United States Forest Service; F. Dale Robertson, Chief,

U.S. Forest Service, Defendants-Appellees,

and

Washington Trails Association; Washington Wilderness

Coalition; et al., Intervenors-Appellees.

No. 92-36784.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

March 17, 1994

Argued and Submitted Jan. 31, 1994.

Page 1469

William Perry Pendley and John G. Nelson, Mountain States Legal Foundation, Denver, CO, for plaintiff-appellant.

Louise F. Milkman, U.S. Dept. of Justice, Washington, DC, for defendants-appellees.

Karl F. Forsgaard, Bogle & Gates, Seattle, WA, for intervenors-appellees.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington.

Before: WRIGHT, REAVLEY, [**] and LEAVY, Circuit Judges.

ORDER

For the reasons stated in the memorandum opinion of the district court filed on August 7, 1992, in the Eastern District of Washington, we affirm the grant of summary judgment in favor of the appellees.

Page 1470

We adopt the district court's memorandum opinion as appended, finding it dispositive of all issues on appeal.

AFFIRMED.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, INTER ALIA

JUSTIN L. QUACKENBUSH, District Judge:

BEFORE THE COURT is Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (Ct.Rec. 44), defendants' Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment (Ct.Rec. 36), and Intervenor-Defendants' Washington Trails association, the Wilderness Coalition, the North Cascades Conservation Council, and the Mountaineers (the "Intervenors") Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment (Ct.Rec. 39). A hearing on these motions was held on July 31, 1992. William Perry Pendley, of the Mountain State Legal Foundation, and Jerry Boyd appeared on behalf of the Plaintiff, while the Defendants were represented by Brian Ferrell, of the United States Department of Justice, Environmental & Natural Resources Division. The Intervenors were represented by Ronald G. Morrison. Having reviewed the record, heard from counsel, and fully considered these matters, the court enters this order to memorialize its oral rulings.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The Wenatchee National Forest, like all national forests, is governed by a Land and Resources Management Plan. In formulating the plan for the Wenatchee National Forest, nine alternative plans were considered by Defendant United States Forest Service. (A.R. 5 at page 12.) A draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) analyzing the alternatives was published in June 1986. (A.R. 93.) A final EIS was published in February 1990. (A.R. 32.) In March 1990, the defendant United States Forest Service issued the Land and Resource Management Plan Record of Decision for the Wenatchee National Forest, which stated that Alternative C of the final EIS had been selected as the Wenatchee Forest Plan. (A.R. 30.) Included in Alternative C was the prohibition of off-road vehicle (ORV) use in the area surrounding the North Fork of the Entiat River and the adjacent Pyramid Mountain area in the Wenatchee National Forest ("North Entiat").

The goal of the Land and Resource Management Plan for the Wenatchee National Forest ("the Plan") is to "[p]rovide a well balanced array of recreation opportunities across the breadth of the recreation opportunity spectrum in accordance with resource capability, public demands and expectations for outdoor recreation." (A.R. 31 at page IV-2.) The Plan also seeks to "[p]rovide a diverse system of safe, well-maintained trails for the enjoyment of all users." Id.

The Plan divides the Wenatchee National Forest into 24 management areas, each with different management goals, resource potential, and limitations. (A.R. 31 at page IV-105.) One such management area is classified RE-3, "Dispersed Recreation, Unroaded, Non-Motorized." The management goal of RE-3 classified land is to "[p]rovide dispersed recreation in an unroaded, semi-primitive, non-motorized or primitive setting." (A.R. 31 at page IV-171.) RE-3 designated lands include "unroaded areas in which trails are evident and maintained for non-motorized users. Landscape changes are generally not evident to those walking through the area. The area is essentially a natural or natural appearing environment. There is little evidence on-site of other users." Id. In the Defendants' Plan, a RE-3 prescription was given to the North Entiat area, thereby prohibiting ORV use in the area.

On May 23, 1990, the Plaintiff, an ORV association in the State of Washington, submitted an administrative appeal challenging the Defendant United States Forest Service's decision to close the North Entiat to motorized trailbike use. The Plaintiff claimed that this decision illegally resolved the alleged conflict between hikers and ORV users by arbitrarily closing the trails to the latter group. The Plaintiff also asserted that the Forest Service's decision created an illegal

Page 1471

buffer zone around a nearby Wilderness area. On February 19, 1991, the Defendant United States Forest Service denied the Plaintiff's appeal and affirmed the decision to implement the Plan.

On March 4, 1991, the Plaintiff submitted a Request for Discretionary Review to Defendant Edward Madigan, the Secretary of Agriculture, in order to exhaust all administrative remedies. The Plaintiff alleges that no response was received, thus, it asserts that exhaustion of remedies has occurred. The Defendants do not challenge this contention.

On October 14, 1991, the Plaintiff filed a complaint with this court seeking injunctive and declaratory relief based on alleged violations of the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. Sec. 706(2)(A), and of the Washington State Wilderness Act of 1984, Pub.L. No. 98-339, Sec. 9, 98 Stat. 299, 305 (1984).

On March 25, 1992, the Intervenors, a group of nonprofit conservation organizations dedicated to the preservation and proper management of Washington's public lands, including the national forests located therein, filed a Motion for Leave to Intervene (Ct.Rec. 15). The court granted the Intervenors' motion in an order filed on April 22, 1992. (Ct.Rec. 33.)

On June 8, 1992, the parties filed their respective cross-motions for summary judgment, which are now before the court.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under the Administrative Procedure Act, a reviewing court shall "hold unlawful and set aside agency action, findings, and conclusions found to be ... arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with the law...." 5 U.S.C. Sec. 706(2)(A). The Supreme Court has held that the ultimate standard of review under 5 U.S.C. Sec. 706(2)(A) is a narrow one, noting that a court is not empowered by section 706(2)(A) to substitute its judgment for that of the agency. Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Ass'n v. State Farm Mutual Ins. Co., 463 U.S. 29, 43, 103 S.Ct. 2856, 2866-67, 77 L.Ed.2d 443 (1983); see also Sierra Pacific Indus. v. Lyng, 866 F.2d 1099, 1105 (9th Cir.1989). However, the Court also noted that a reviewing court must conduct a searching and careful inquiry into the facts. Citizens to Preserve Overton Park v. Volpe, 401 U.S. 402, 416, 91 S.Ct. 814, 823-24, 28 L.Ed.2d 136 (1971).

In reviewing an agency's decision under section 706(2)(A), a court "must consider whether the decision was based on a consideration of the relevant factors and whether there has been a clear error of judgment." Overton Park, 401 U.S. at 416, 91 S.Ct. at 416. After considering the relevant data, the court must "articulate a satisfactory explanation for its action including a 'rational connection between the facts found and the choice made.' " Motor Vehicle Manufacturers, 463 U.S. at 43, 103 S.Ct. at 2866 (quoting Burlington Truck Lines, Inc. v. United States, 371 U.S. 156, 168, 83 S.Ct. 239, 246, 9 L.Ed.2d 207 (1962)). In order for an agency decision to be upheld under the arbitrary and capricious standard, a court must find that evidence before the agency provided a rational and ample basis for its decision. Washington State Farm Bureau v. Marshall, 625 F.2d 296, 305 (9th Cir.1980).

Further, "[w]here review involves an agency's construction of the statute it administers, the court must first give effect to the unambiguously expressed intent of Congress." Sierra Pacific, 866 F.2d at 1105. If the statute is silent or ambiguous concerning the issue in dispute, the court must then determine if the agency's interpretation of the statute was based on a permissible construction of the statute. Id.

III. STANDARD FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

The purpose of summary judgment is to avoid unnecessary trials when there is no dispute as to the facts before the court. Zweig v. Hearst Corp., 521 F.2d 1129 (9th Cir.1975), cert. denied, 423 U.S. 1025, 96

Page 1472

S.Ct. 469, 46 L.Ed.2d 399 (1975). The moving party is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law where, viewing the evidence and the inferences arising therefrom in favor of the nonmovant, there are no genuine issues of material fact in dispute. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Semegen v. Weidner, 780 F.2d 727 (9th Cir.1986). When reasonable minds could differ on the material facts at issue, summary judgment is not appropriate. See v. Durang, 711 F.2d 141 (9th Cir.1983).

As mentioned previously, this case involves review of a final agency determination under the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. Sec. 706; therefore, resolution of this matter does not require fact finding on behalf of this court. Rather, the court's review is limited to the administrative record, to which the Plaintiff and the Defendants have stipulated to. (Ct.Rec. 43.) Because this case does not present any genuine issues of material fact, summary...

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4 practice notes
  • Recreation wars for our natural resources.
    • United States
    • Environmental Law Vol. 34 Nbr. 4, September 2004
    • September 22, 2004
    ...and nonmotorized watercraft users are "competing mid often conflicting"); Northwest Motorcycle Ass'n v. United States Dep't of Agric., 18 F.3d 1469, 1477 (9th Cir. 1994) (referring to the "incompatible desires and aims between ORV users and non-motorized trail users" and holding that "[d]ef......
  • THE EMERGING LAW OF OUTDOOR RECREATION ON THE PUBLIC LANDS.
    • United States
    • Environmental Law Vol. 51 Nbr. 1, March 2021
    • March 22, 2021
    ...2006) (rejecting NEPA challenges to the agency's decision process). (265) Id. at 786. (266) Nw. Motorcycle Ass'n v. U.S. Dep't of Agric, 18 F.3d 1468, 1470, 1481 (9th Cir. 1994); see also Sierra Trail Dogs Motorcycle & Recreation Club v. U.S. Forest Serv., No. 3:18-cv-00594-MMD-CLB, 202......
  • 1994 Ninth Circuit Environmental Review.
    • United States
    • Environmental Law Vol. 25 Nbr. 3, June 1995
    • June 22, 1995
    ...it was objectively reasonable for the Ranger to feel intimidated. Northwest Motorcycle Ass'n v. United States Department of Agriculture, 18 F.3d 1468 (9th Cir. 1994). An off-road vehicle (ORV) association sought injunctive and declaratory relief following the U.S. Forest Service's (Forest S......
  • The rise of urban archipelagoes in the American west: a new reservation policy?
    • United States
    • Environmental Law Vol. 31 Nbr. 1, January 2001
    • January 1, 2001
    ...15, at 144; WILDLIFE AND RECREATIONISTS, supra note 129, at xv. See also Northwest Motorcycle Ass'n v. United States Dep't. of Agric., 18 F.3d 1468 (9th Cir. 1994) (dispute between ORV users and wilderness users over ORV trail closure in the Wenatchee National Forest); Southern Utah Wildern......
4 books & journal articles
  • 1994 Ninth Circuit Environmental Review.
    • United States
    • Environmental Law Vol. 25 Nbr. 3, June 1995
    • June 22, 1995
    ...it was objectively reasonable for the Ranger to feel intimidated. Northwest Motorcycle Ass'n v. United States Department of Agriculture, 18 F.3d 1468 (9th Cir. 1994). An off-road vehicle (ORV) association sought injunctive and declaratory relief following the U.S. Forest Service's (Forest S......
  • THE EMERGING LAW OF OUTDOOR RECREATION ON THE PUBLIC LANDS.
    • United States
    • Environmental Law Vol. 51 Nbr. 1, March 2021
    • March 22, 2021
    ...2006) (rejecting NEPA challenges to the agency's decision process). (265) Id. at 786. (266) Nw. Motorcycle Ass'n v. U.S. Dep't of Agric, 18 F.3d 1468, 1470, 1481 (9th Cir. 1994); see also Sierra Trail Dogs Motorcycle & Recreation Club v. U.S. Forest Serv., No. 3:18-cv-00594-MMD-CLB, 202......
  • Recreation wars for our natural resources.
    • United States
    • Environmental Law Vol. 34 Nbr. 4, September 2004
    • September 22, 2004
    ...and nonmotorized watercraft users are "competing mid often conflicting"); Northwest Motorcycle Ass'n v. United States Dep't of Agric., 18 F.3d 1469, 1477 (9th Cir. 1994) (referring to the "incompatible desires and aims between ORV users and non-motorized trail users" and holding that "[d]ef......
  • The rise of urban archipelagoes in the American west: a new reservation policy?
    • United States
    • Environmental Law Vol. 31 Nbr. 1, January 2001
    • January 1, 2001
    ...15, at 144; WILDLIFE AND RECREATIONISTS, supra note 129, at xv. See also Northwest Motorcycle Ass'n v. United States Dep't. of Agric., 18 F.3d 1468 (9th Cir. 1994) (dispute between ORV users and wilderness users over ORV trail closure in the Wenatchee National Forest); Southern Utah Wildern......

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