Jarita Mesa Livestock Grazing Ass'n v. U.S. Forest Serv., No. CIV 12-0069 JB/KBM

CourtUnited States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
PartiesJARITA MESA LIVESTOCK GRAZING ASSOCIATION, ALAMOSA LIVESTOCK GRAZING ASSOCIATION, SEBEDEO CHACON, THOMAS GRIEGO, DONALD GRIEGO, MICHAEL PENA, JUAN GIRON, JOE GURULE, FERNANDO GURULE, DIEGO JARAMILLO, LORENZO JARAMILLO, GABRIEL ALDAZ, ARTURO RODARTE, EFFREY CHACON, GLORIAVALDEZ, JERRY VASQUEZ, CARLOS ORTEGA, LEON ORTEGA, HORACIO MARTINEZ, RONALD MARTINEZ, STEVE CHAVEZ, VANGIE CHAVEZ, ALFONSO CHACON, DANIEL RAEL, JOHN VALDEZ and BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF THE COUNTY OF RIO ARRIBA, Plaintiffs, v. THE UNITED STATES FOREST SERVICE and DIANA TRUJILLO, In her official and individual capacities, Defendants.
Docket NumberNo. CIV 12-0069 JB/KBM
Decision Date24 January 2013

JARITA MESA LIVESTOCK GRAZING ASSOCIATION, ALAMOSA LIVESTOCK
GRAZING ASSOCIATION, SEBEDEO CHACON, THOMAS GRIEGO, DONALD
GRIEGO, MICHAEL PENA, JUAN GIRON, JOE GURULE, FERNANDO GURULE,
DIEGO JARAMILLO, LORENZO JARAMILLO, GABRIEL ALDAZ, ARTURO RODARTE,
EFFREY CHACON, GLORIAVALDEZ, JERRY VASQUEZ, CARLOS ORTEGA,
LEON ORTEGA, HORACIO MARTINEZ, RONALD MARTINEZ, STEVE CHAVEZ,
VANGIE CHAVEZ, ALFONSO CHACON, DANIEL RAEL, JOHN VALDEZ
and BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF THE COUNTY OF RIO ARRIBA, Plaintiffs,
v.
THE UNITED STATES FOREST SERVICE and DIANA TRUJILLO,
In her official and individual capacities, Defendants.

No. CIV 12-0069 JB/KBM

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW MEXICO

Dated: January 24, 2013


MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

THIS MATTER comes before the Court on the Defendants' Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss, filed May 23, 2012 (Doc. 17). The Court held a hearing on November 9, 2012. The primary issues are: (i) whether the Court should extend a cause of action under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971)(hereinafter "Bivens") to cover the claims of the Plaintiffs -- Sebedeo Chacon, Thomas Griego, Donald Griego,

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Michael Pena, Juan Giron, Joe Gurule, Jr., Fernando Gurule, Diego Jaramillo, Lorenzo Jaramillo, Gabriel Aldaz, Arturo Rodarte, Jeffrey Chacon, Gloria Valdez, Jerry Vasquez, Carlos Ortega, Leon Ortega, Horacio Martinez, Ronald Martinez, Steve Chavez, Vangie Chavez, Alfonso Chacon, Daniel Rael, John Valdez, Jarita Mesa Livestock Grazing Association, Alamosa Livestock Grazing Association, and Board of County Commissions of the County of Rio Arriba, (collectively, "the Plaintiffs") -- against Defendant Diana Trujillo, District Ranger for the El Rito District in the Carson National Forest in New Mexico, in her personal capacity for damages; (ii) whether the Plaintiffs have stated a claim that the United States Forest Service ("USFS") and Trujillo (collectively, "the Defendants") violated the Plaintiffs' First Amendment rights to speech and petition the government for redress; and (iii) whether the Court should entertain the Plaintiffs' requests for equitable relief against the Defendants. The Court concludes that it should not extend a cause of action to the Plaintiffs under Bivens for the alleged violation of their First Amendment rights, because Congress created an adequate, alternative remedy in the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 701-706 ("APA"), for the Plaintiffs to bring their claim that Trujillo's actions violated the Plaintiffs' constitutional rights. The Court concludes that the Plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged that the Defendants plausibly violated the Plaintiffs' First Amendment rights. The Plaintiffs have alleged sufficient facts for the Court to plausibly conclude that Trujillo's decision in 2010 to reduce grazing permits by eighteen-percent was retaliation for the Plaintiffs' repeated public criticism of Trujillo's and the USFS' management of the Carson National Forest. The Plaintiffs seek both declaratory and injunctive relief from Trujillo's actions, requests which the Court may properly entertain, because the Plaintiffs seek to resolve an actual controversy regarding Trujillo's and the USFS' rights and obligations with respect to their future conduct towards the Plaintiffs, specifically, the enforcement of Trujillo's 2010 decision to reduce certain

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Plaintiffs' grazing permits by eighteen-percent through the 2015 grazing season.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The history of the Plaintiffs' case predates the parties before the Court. The Plaintiffs set forth a backdrop of social, cultural, and economic factors, which are inextricably intertwined to the Plaintiffs' cattle grazing within the Carson National Forest. The Plaintiffs also allege a history of tension between the USFS and the Plaintiffs' ancestors, tension which bears on the legality of the Defendants' actions managing national forestland in northern New Mexico over the last three years. 1 The Court takes as true all non-conclusory factual statements in the Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief (First Amendment to the United States Constitution, National Environmental Policy Act; National Forest Management Act, Sustain Yield Forest Management Act; Administrative Procedure Act) filed Jan. 20, 2012 (Doc. 1)("Complaint").

1. The Parties.

"The Plaintiffs and their ancestors are Hispanic stockmen whose families have been grazing livestock" in northern New Mexico for many generations. Id. ¶ 3, at 2-3. Most of the Individual Plaintiffs' families were grazing livestock in the area of the Vallecitos Federal Sustained Yield Unit ("the Unit") before the USFS existed. Id. ¶ 3, at 3. The Unit is an area of the Carson National Forest that Congress set aside to be managed for the economic benefit of the communities located in the Unit. Congress specifically provided that these local communities should have access to the timber and other forest products within the Unit, as needed for the communities' economic stability. See id. ¶ 39, at 14. Grazing livestock is an "integral part of their existence and is a central part of life in the villages they reside in . . . all of Northern New

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Mexico." Id. ¶ 3, at 3.

The Jarita Mesa Allotment and the Alamosa Allotment are areas within the Unit on which cattle grazing is allowed. Complaint ¶ 2, at 2. S. Chacon, Pena, Giron, Aldaz, Rodarte, T. Griego, D. Griego, J. Gurule, Jaramillo, J. Chacon, and G. Valdez (collectively, "the Jarita Mesa Permittees") have permits issued by the USFS which allow them to graze cattle on the Jarita Mesa Allotment. Id. ¶ 3, at 2. T. Griego, D. Griego, C. Ortega, L. Ortega, Rael, H. Martinez, R. Martinez, F. Gurule, J. Vasquez, J. Vasquez, Jr., and A. Chacon (collectively, "the Alamosa Permittees") have permits, issued by the USFS, which allow them to graze cattle on the Alamosa Allotment. Id. ¶ 3, at 2. S. Chavez is a former permittee on the Alamosa Allotment, and now lives within the Unit with his wife, V. Chavez. See id. ¶ 3, at 2. J. Valdez is a former permittee on the Jarita Mesa Allotment and now resides within the Unit. See id. ¶ 3, at 2-3. The Jarita Mesa Grazing Association and the Alamosa Grazing Association (collectively, "the Associations") are "local livestock associations made up exclusively of grazing permittees on the respective allotments." Complaint ¶ 13, at 5. The Associations were established to: (i) protect and promote the permittees' livestock grazing on the Allotments; (ii) manage and share the costs of handling livestock, range improvements, and other programs for the benefit of the Allotments and their resources; (iii) express the Associations' members' wishes; and (iv) meet with and work with the USFS to ensure proper management of livestock and range resources on the allotments. See id. ¶ 13, at 6. S. Chacon was president of the Jarita Mesa Grazing Association throughout the events set forth in the Complaint. See id. ¶ 14, at 6. T. Griego was president of the Alamosa Grazing Association throughout the events set forth in the Complaint. See id.¶ 15, at 7.

Board of County Commissioners of the County of Rio Arriba ("Rio Arriba County") is a political subdivision in northern New Mexico, in which a large portion of the Carson National

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Forest, including the Allotments and the El Rito Ranger District, is located. Id. ¶ 16, at 7. The Individual Plaintiffs are all residents of Rio Arriba County. Rio Arriba County and local school districts receive payment derived from the grazing fees, in lieu of taxes, from the USFS. This payment is derived, in part, from grazing fees. Rio Arriba County is thus interested in ensuring that the "grazing permits on land administered by the Forest Service within Rio Arriba County are not unlawfully reduced." Complaint ¶ 16, at 7. Rio Arriba County is also interested in protecting the social fabric, customs, traditions, and cultural integrity of the traditional communities within the county. Rio Arriba County is interested in the economic betterment of its citizens. Rio Arriba County is also interested in "making sure federal laws are followed and that its citizens are not punished by federal officials for expressing their views on federal agency policy to elected officials and others." Id.¶ 16, at 7.

The USFS is an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture and is charged with the "administration of lands within the United States that have been designated as National Forest Lands." Id. ¶ 17, at 8. The USFS is charged with the management of the Unit. Throughout the events set forth in the Complaint, Trujillo was employed by the USFS as the El Rito District Ranger. Id. ¶ 19, at 8. Both Allotments are located in the El Rito District of the Carson National Forest. See Complaint ¶ 1, at 2. Trujillo is charged with "managing the natural resources in her district, including the range resource." Id. ¶ 19, at 8.

2. The Events.

"[A]ll or a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the [Plaintiffs'] claims . . . occurred within this judicial district." Id. ¶ 12, at 5. The Hispanic people in northern New Mexico have lived in the area for hundreds of years, long before the USFS was created. See id. ¶ 37, at 13. They have a unique culture, shaped by and dependent on their relationship with the

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land. See id. ¶ 37, at 13. The Hispanic...

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