425 F.3d 1213 (9th Cir. 2005), 04-35053, Skranak v. Castenada

Docket Nº:04-35053, 04-35056.
Citation:425 F.3d 1213
Party Name:Henry SKRANAK, Plaintiff, and Alan Skranak; James Skranak, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. Robert CASTENADA, Supervisor, Kootenai National Forest; United States Forest Service, of the United States Department of Agriculture, Defendants-Appellees. Charles W. Harpole, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Robert Castenada, Supervisor, Kootenai National Forest; United St
Case Date:October 12, 2005
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
 
FREE EXCERPT

Page 1213

425 F.3d 1213 (9th Cir. 2005)

Henry SKRANAK, Plaintiff,

and

Alan Skranak; James Skranak, Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

Robert CASTENADA, Supervisor, Kootenai National Forest; United States Forest Service, of the United States Department of Agriculture, Defendants-Appellees.

Charles W. Harpole, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

Robert Castenada, Supervisor, Kootenai National Forest; United States Forest Service, of the United States Department of Agriculture, Defendants-Appellees.

Nos. 04-35053, 04-35056.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

October 12, 2005

Argued and Submitted February 10, 2005.

Page 1214

COUNSEL

Ward A. Shanahan, Gough, Shanahan, Johnson and Waterman, Helena, Montana, argued the cause for the appellants and was on the briefs.

Katherine W. Hazard, Washington, D.C., argued the cause for the appellees. Thomas L. Sansonetti, Assistant Attorney General, Ruth Ann Storey, and John Smeltzer, United States Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., and Alan Campbell and James Snow, United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C., were on the brief.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Montana, D.C. Nos. CV-00-00233-DWM, CV-00-00232-DWM Donald W. Molloy, District Judge, Presiding.

Before: Monroe G. McKay, [*] Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain, and Carlos T. Bea, Circuit Judges.

O'SCANNLAIN, Circuit Judge:

We must decide whether the United States Forest Service properly denied

Page 1215

owners access to their patented mining claims within the Kootenai National Forest in Montana.

I

A

Alan Skranak and James Skranak ("the Skranaks") currently own the 50-acre "Fourth-of-July" tract, 1 consisting of four mining claims in the Kootenai National Forest in Montana. The United States granted a patent on one in 1907 and on the other three in 1912. A six-foot wide wagon road was built to the tract in 1902. The road has long since been closed to motorized traffic and now functions as the Fourth-of-July trail.

Henry Skranak, the Skranaks' father, bought the Fourth-of-July tract in 1961 and has had numerous run-ins with the Forest Service over issues of access in his efforts to work the mining claims. In 1995 Henry Skranak requested a special use permit under the Alaska National Interest Land Conservation Act ("ANILCA") to construct a 2.1-mile access road on and near the Fourth-of-July trail. The Forest Service considered the request and its potential effects on endangered species, water quality, and recreation, among other concerns. The Forest Service decided to allow the road to be built, but along a different, 2.52-mile route, in order to minimize its impact. Road construction would only be permitted from June 16 to October 15 in each year. The Forest Service promised to issue an "easement" good for a ten-year period and renewable thereafter upon completion of construction, estimated to be within two to three years. In order to protect grizzlies, the Forest Service would permit only 46 vehicle round trips from June 16 to September 15, and 38 round trips from September 16 to November 15, with unlimited access in the winter. Use would be forbidden from April 1 to June 15.

B

Charles Harpole owns the 40-acre "Wayup Mine" tract, consisting of two mining claims which the United States patented in 1903. Currently, a non-system primitive road off of Forest Road 6746 ("FR 6746") provides access. FR 6746 is open year round to motorized traffic, but is in need of maintenance and reconstruction. The Forest Service states that FR 6746 was built sometime between 1900 and 1930, and has not been maintained for 30 years. The non-system road is 1.3 miles long and in need of significant work before it can be used by motorized traffic.

Beginning in 1983, Harpole worked the mining claims episodically. During such times, the Forest Service allowed him to have access but required that he obtain a permit. The Forest Service has blocked access entirely during those periods in which Harpole was not using it.

In 1995, after nearly a decade of inactivity, Harpole applied for a special use permit under ANILCA to reconstruct and to use FR 6746 and the non-system road. The Forest Service considered the request and its potential effects on endangered species, water quality, and recreation, among other concerns and granted Harpole's permit, but with conditions. Road construction would only be permitted from June 16 to October 15 in each year. The Forest Service promised to issue an "easement" good for a ten-year period and renewable thereafter upon completion of construction, estimated to be within two to three years. In order to protect grizzlies, the Forest Service would permit only 38 vehicle round trips from April 1 to June 15, 46 vehicle round trips from June 16 to

Page 1216

September 15, and 38 vehicle round trips from September 16 to November 15, with unlimited access in the winter.

C

Henry Skranak and Harpole appealed from the denial of unconditional permits, complaining that the special use permits either took or ignored their easements. They also complained that they ought not to bear the cost of improving Forest Service roads that would become accessible to the public. The Forest Service denied their joint administrative appeal.

At that point, the Skranaks (their father having died and ownership of the Fourth-of-July tract having passed to them) filed suit in district court to quiet title to an easement to the Fourth-of-July tract under the Quiet Title Act and to challenge the Forest Service's permit as arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA"). In a separate action, Harpole raised similar Quiet Title Act and APA claims with respect to the Wayup Mine.

On cross motions in the two respective actions, the district court granted summary judgments in favor of the Forest Service. The district court held that neither the Skranaks or Harpole had owned an easement under any...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP