UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT DECISIONS ON-LINE

NORTON, SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, et al. v. SOUTHERN UTAH WILDERNESS ALLIANCE et al., 542 U.S. 55

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NORTON, SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, et al. v. SOUTHERN UTAH WILDERNESS ALLIANCE et al.

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE TENTH CIRCUIT

No. 03-101. Argued March 29, 2004--Decided June 14, 2004

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), an Interior Department agency, manages the Utah land at issue here under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA). Pursuant to 43 U. S. C. §1782, the Secretary of the Interior has identified certain federal lands as "wilderness study areas" (WSAs) and recommended some of these as suitable for wilderness designation. Land designated as wilderness by Act of Congress enjoys special protection; until Congress acts, the Secretary must "manage [WSAs] ... so as not to impair the[ir] suitability for preservation as wilderness." §1782(c). In addition, each WSA or other area is managed "in accordance with" a land use plan, §1732(a), a BLM document which generally describes, for a particular area, allowable uses, goals for the land's future condition, and next steps. 43 CFR §1601.0-5(k). Respondents Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and others (collectively SUWA) sought declaratory and injunctive relief for BLM's failure to act to protect Utah public lands from environmental damage caused by off-road vehicles (ORVs), asserting three claims relevant here, and contending that they could sue under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) to "compel agency action unlawfully withheld or unreasonably delayed," 5 U. S. C. §706(1). The Tenth Circuit reversed the District Court's dismissal of the claims.

Held: BLM's alleged failures to act are not remediable under the APA. Pp. 5-17.


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