American Motorcyclist Ass'n v. Watt

Decision Date01 December 1981
Docket NumberNo. CV 80-5561-AWT,CV 80-5599-AWT,CV 80-5629-AWT and CV 81-489-AWT.,CV 80-5561-AWT
PartiesAMERICAN MOTORCYCLIST ASSOCIATION etc., et al., Plaintiffs, v. James G. WATT, etc., et al., Defendants. COUNTY OF INYO, etc., Plaintiff, v. James G. WATT, etc., et al., Defendants. NATIONAL OUTDOOR COALITION, Plaintiff, v. James G. WATT, etc., et al., Defendants. CALIFORNIA NATIVE PLANT SOCIETY, etc., et al., Plaintiffs, v. James G. WATT, etc., et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Central District of California


Robert E. Hinerfeld, Murphy, Thornton, Hinerfeld & Cahill, Los Angeles, Cal., for American Motorcyclist Ass'n.

Dennis L. Myers, County Counsel, Independence, Cal., for County of Inyo.

Karen L. Patterson, Kinsella, Boesch, Fujikawa & Towle, Los Angeles, Cal., for Nat. Outdoor Coalition.

Laurens H. Silver, Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, Inc., Mark I. Weinberger, Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger, San Francisco, Cal., for California Native Plant Society, et al.

Andrea Sheridan Ordin, U. S. Atty., Frederick M. Brosio, Asst. U. S. Atty., Chief, Civ. Div., James R. Arnold, Asst. U. S. Atty., Los Angeles, Cal., for James G. Watt, et al.; Robert E. Conover, Field Sol., Dept. of the Interior, of counsel.


TASHIMA, District Judge.

Plaintiffs in all but one of these consolidated actions, American Motorcyclist Association and Sports Committee, District 37, A.M.A., Inc. (collectively "AMA"), County of Inyo and National Outdoor Coalition ("NOC"),1 have each moved for a preliminary injunction restraining defendants, the Secretary of the Interior ("Secretary"), the Director of the Bureau of Land Management ("BLM"), Department of the Interior, and the California State Director of BLM, from implementing the California Desert Conservation Area Plan (the "Plan"), which was prepared by the BLM pursuant to Section 601 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 ("FLPMA"), 43 U.S.C. § 1781.2 Section 601 requires the Secretary to inventory the resources in the California Desert Conservation Area ("CDCA") and prepare a comprehensive land use management plan for the area. The CDCA and the Plan cover the more than 12 million acres of desert land in the State of California which are owned by the United States and administered by the BLM.

Plaintiffs seek to enjoin the Plan based on defendants' alleged failure to comply with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, 42 U.S.C. § 4321 et seq. ("NEPA"), FLPMA, 43 U.S.C. § 1701 et seq., and the resource management planning, programming and budgeting regulations promulgated by the BLM pursuant to Sections 201 and 202 of FLPMA, 43 U.S.C. §§ 1711 and 1712 (the "BLM planning regulations"). 43 C.F.R. § 1600 et seq.3 After reviewing the extensive record on these motions, I conclude that plaintiffs have shown that there is a likelihood that they will prevail on the merits at trial. However, equitable considerations militate against granting preliminary injunctive relief in favor of any of the plaintiffs. None of the plaintiffs has shown that the balance of hardships tips in its favor or that it will suffer irreparable harm if preliminary injunctive relief is denied. See Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Comm'n v. National Football League, 634 F.2d 1197, 1201 (9th Cir. 1980). Accordingly, for the reasons hereinafter stated, each of the motions for preliminary injunctions restraining enforcement and implementation of the Plan will be denied.

The CDCA Plan

The Plan is a long-range comprehensive plan for the management, use, development and protection of the over 12 million acres of land owned by the United States and administered by the BLM in the CDCA. Section 601 of FLPMA directs the Secretary to prepare and implement a plan which "takes into account the principles of multiple use and sustained yield in providing for resource use and development, including, but not limited to the maintenance of environmental quality, rights-of-way, and mineral development." 43 U.S.C. § 1781(d). The Plan was developed to provide general, regional guidance for management of the CDCA over a 20-year period. BLM, Final Environmental Impact Statement and Proposed Plan VII (1980) ("Final EIS"). It is designed to consider issues and resolve basic conflicts on a large scale in order to aid future decision-makers and "will be at the top of a hierarchy and provide the framework for subsequent plans for specific resources and uses, development of site specific programs or project action." Id. at E-2.

The following "planning components" are utilized in the Plan. Broad regional resource uses are addressed by a system of four multiple use classes: Controlled (Class C), which is designed to protect and preserve areas having wilderness characteristics described in the Wilderness Act, 16 U.S.C. § 1131 et seq., and which serves as a preliminary recommendation by the Secretary that the areas are suitable for wilderness designation by Congress; Limited (Class L), which protects sensitive natural scenic, ecological and cultural resources, but provides for low intensity multiple use; Moderate (Class M), designed to provide for a wide variety of use, yet mitigate damage to the most sensitive uses; and Intensive (Class I), which emphasizes development oriented use of lands and resources to meet consumptive needs, yet provides for some protection of resources. Plan at 13.

All land use actions and resource management activities within a multiple use class must meet the guidelines for that class.4 The Plan contains a chart which sets out how each of the guidelines will affect uses in each class. Id. at 15-20. For example, in accordance with the agricultural guidelines, agricultural uses, excluding livestock grazing, are not allowed in areas designated as Class C or Class L, but may be allowed on suitable lands within Class M and Class I. Id. at 15.

A multiple use class may incorporate a number of types and levels of use consistent with the multiple use guidelines. Where such uses conflict, the conflicts—the major issues of the Plan—are addressed in twelve Plan Elements.5 Each of the Plan Elements is subdivided into three areas of interest and responsibility: goals for the element, actions proposed for the element and implementation of the Plan as it affects the element. In each of the Plan Elements an attempt is made to identify existing or possible conflicts between varying uses and to provide the manager faced with resolution of these conflicts with a framework for making decisions relating to specific land uses.

The Plan (at 125-26) also designates 75 Areas of Critical Environmental Concern ("ACEC"), pursuant to Section 103(a) of FLPMA, which defines an ACEC as an area "within the public lands where special management attention is required ... to protect and prevent irreparable damage to important historic, cultural, or scenic values, fish and wildlife resources, or other natural systems and processes, or to protect life and safety from natural hazards." 43 U.S.C. § 1702(a).

Management prescriptions for each area proposed for ACEC designation have been or will be developed by the BLM. These prescriptions are "site specific" and include both actions which the BLM has authority to carry out and recommendations of action which the BLM has no direct authority to implement, such as cooperative agreements with other agencies and mineral withdrawals. Plan at 123. For example, ACEC # 4, the Saline Valley in Inyo County, has been so designated because it is a wildlife habitat. The management prescriptions developed include cooperative management with the California Department of Fish and Game, acquisition of non-BLM lands through exchange and purchase, reduction of the burro populations, limitation of vehicles to approved routes, designation of camping areas and closing the Saline Dunes to vehicle entry. Id. at 125; see also Final EIS, App. IV.

Finally, the Plan identifies "Other Support Requirements," including special soil, air quality, and water resource programs, a trespass prevention program and a cadastral survey of the CDCA. Plan at 137-38.

The Final Environmental Impact Statement

The Final EIS, prepared by the BLM as required by NEPA, provides the decisionmaker with four alternatives: a "No-Action Alternative" (as required by the Council on Environmental Quality ("CEQ") regulations which interpret NEPA, 40 C.F.R. § 1500 et seq.), a "Protection Alternative," a "Balanced Alternative" and a "Use Alternative." The impact of each alternative on the environment is assessed by investigation of the effect of each plan element on each major resource for each alternative. In this way, the EIS attempts to compare the cumulative impact of each of the alternatives.

Specifically, the environmental impacts on the following resources and activities are evaluated in the EIS: air quality, water quality, soils, energy and minerals, vegetation, wildlife, cultural resources/Native American values, wilderness, visual quality, recreation, domestic livestock grazing, wild horse and burro and socioeconomics. Both the Draft EIS and Final EIS employ the same method of analysis; however, the Final EIS also attempts to assess the impact of additional issues identified in the public review process. See Final EIS at E-5.

The Final EIS serves as both a "programmatic EIS" (the first tier of environmental review applicable to the "major federal action" embodied in the Plan) and a "site-specific EIS." As a "programmatic EIS" it focuses on broad issues and attempts to consider the relationship between the disparate environmental impacts caused by or associated with the various aspects of the Plan. See National Wildlife Fed'n v. Appalachian Regional Comm'n, No. 79-2349, slip op at 10 (D.C.Cir. Mar. 19, 1981); see also Kleppe v. Sierra Club, 427 U.S. 390, 413, 96 S.Ct. 2718, 2731, 49 L.Ed.2d 576 (1976). As a "site-specific EIS" it endeavors to assess the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
7 cases
  • National Wildlife Federation v. Burford
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Montana
    • September 3, 1985 do. See United States v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683, 695-96, 94 S.Ct. 3090, 3100-01, 41 L.Ed.2d 1039 (1974); American Motorcycle Assn. v. Watt, 534 F.Supp. 923, 935 (C.D.Cal.1981), aff'd, 714 F.2d 962 The objective and end result of the land use planning phase is to identify those lands which a......
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Middle District of North Carolina
    • August 10, 1984
    ...many of its members had used river for various purposes and wished to preserve river and its surroundings); American Motorcyclist Association v. Watt, 534 F.Supp. 923 (D.C. Cal.1981), aff'd 714 F.2d 962 (9th Cir.1983) (organization alleged evidence of loss of recreational opportunities by i......
  • Yount v. Salazar
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Arizona
    • January 8, 2013
    ...could affect adjacent city-owned land. Id.; Douglas County v. Babbitt, 48 F.3d 1495 (9th Cir. 1995). In American Motorcyclist Association v. Watt, 534 F. Supp. 923 (C.D. Cal. 1981), the District Court for the Central District of California applied this principle to conclude that where "the ......
  • Emery Min. Corp. v. Secretary of Labor
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Tenth Circuit
    • September 26, 1984
    ...41-42 (N.D.Tex.1981); Tenneco Oil Co. v. Department of Energy, 475 F.Supp. 299, 318 (D.Del.1979). But cf. American Motorcyclist Association v. Watt, 534 F.Supp. 923, 934 (C.D.Cal.1981), aff'd 714 F.2d 962 (9th On this record, however, we cannot conclude that in approving Emery's plan, MSHA ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles
    • United States
    • FNREL - Special Institute Natural Resources and Environmental Administrative Law and Procedure II (FNREL)
    • Invalid date
    ...challenging failure of USFWS to list the owl). [17] .16 U.S.C. § 429; 43 U.S.C. § 1701(a)(8). [18] .American Motorcyclist Ass'n v. Watt, 534 F. Supp. 923 (C.D. Calif. 1981), aff'd 714 F.2d 962 (9%gth%g Cir. 1983) (holding BLM violated regulations by failing to designate off-road trails in t......
    • United States
    • FNREL - Special Institute Natural Resources & Environmental Administrative Law and Procedure (FNREL)
    • Invalid date
    ...failure of USFWS to list the owl). [17] 16 U.S.C. § 429; 43 U.S.C. § 1701(a)(8). [18] 18. American Motorcyclist Ass'n v. Watt, 534 F. Supp. 923 (C.D. Calif. 1981), aff'd 714 F.2d 962 (9 Cir. 1983) (holding BLM violated regulations by failing to designate off-road trails in the California De......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT