636 F.2d 279 (10th Cir. 1980), 79-1023, Knapp v. United States

Docket Nº:79-1023.
Citation:636 F.2d 279
Party Name:Leland M. KNAPP, Anna R. Knapp, Thomas E. Knapp, Theodore L. Knapp, Lois Stark, John H. Stark and Robert W. Stark, Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. The UNITED STATES of America, Cecil Andrus, Secretary of the Interior, and George L. Turcott, Director of the Bureau of Land Management, Defendants-Appellants.
Case Date:December 01, 1980
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
 
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Page 279

636 F.2d 279 (10th Cir. 1980)

Leland M. KNAPP, Anna R. Knapp, Thomas E. Knapp, Theodore L.

Knapp, Lois Stark, John H. Stark and Robert W.

Stark, Plaintiffs-Appellees,

v.

The UNITED STATES of America, Cecil Andrus, Secretary of the

Interior, and George L. Turcott, Director of the

Bureau of Land Management, Defendants-Appellants.

No. 79-1023.

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

December 1, 1980

Argued July 9, 1980.

Page 280

Raymond N. Zagone, Dept. of Justice, Washington, D. C. (James W. Moorman, Asst. Atty. Gen., Washington, D. C., Charles E. Graves, U. S. Atty., and Sharon A. Lyman, Asst. U. S. Atty., Cheyenne, Wyo., Jacques B. Gelin and Anne S. Almy, Attys., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D. C., on brief), for defendants-appellants.

John W. Davis, Worland, Wyo. (Jeffrey A. Donnell, Worland, Wyo., with him on brief), of Davis, Donnell & Worrall, Worland, Wyo., for plaintiffs-appellees.

Before SETH, Chief Judge, and HOLLOWAY and SEYMOUR, Circuit Judges.

SEYMOUR, Circuit Judge.

This is an action under the Quiet Title Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2409a, to quiet title against the United States in 48 acres of land in Wyoming. Plaintiffs are members of two families, the Knapps and the Starks, who claim as heirs of and successors in interest to a Mr. David Schoening. The Government also traces its interest through conveyances originating from Schoening. The district court found the suit timely filed and declared plaintiffs freeholders of the land, subject to a right-of-way in the Government for a stock driveway across the land. The Government has appealed, contending 28 U.S.C. § 2409a(f) time-bars plaintiffs' suit and thereby ousts the district court of subject matter jurisdiction. We agree and therefore reverse.

Factual Background

In 1939, title to the land now in dispute lay in David Schoening. On August 17 Schoening conveyed to the United States an easement for a driveway that would permit passage by livestock. Within the next month the Civilian Conservation Corps erected a fence that enclosed a strip of roughly two acres. By its own terms the easement had a broad scope both as to use and land covered. But also by its terms, it looked to a pending land purchase and was to last only until those negotiations were completed.

On November 21, 1939, Schoening purported to convey by warranty deed and for a stated consideration of $100, lands described as:

"All that portion of the hereinafter described lands lying north of a meander line drawn parallel with and two (2) chains north of the north high water mark of the Badwater Creek; E 1/2 NE 1/4 section 13, T. 38 N., R. 91 W., 6 P.M., containing 20 acres more or less."

Rec., vol. III, Pl. Ex. 6 (emphasis added). The described lands do not contain 20 acres; they span roughly 48. And they substantially include the 2-acre strip fenced as a stock driveway.

Page 281

Schoening's deed stated the grantee as the "Wyoming Grazing District Number Two." See id. Under the Taylor Grazing Act, 43 U.S.C. § 315 et seq., a "grazing district" is a geographical unit of administration established by the Secretary of Interior "to promote the highest use" of public lands. Id. Each "district" has its own advisory board of local stockmen. Id. § 315o-1. The advisory board, inter alia, offers advice and makes recommendations to the Secretary about "physical, economic, and other local conditions" in the district. Id.

On February 14, 1940, almost three months after Schoening's deed to the Wyoming Grazing District, the District's advisory board executed a deed that conveyed to the Secretary of Interior the land described in the Schoening deed. As already stated, that description covers...

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