An amicus brief submitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit regarding Friends of the Crazy Mountains v. Erickson.
Summary of the Argument
By historical accident, many western landscapes are checkerboarded by alternating public and private lands. This checkerboarding produces persistent access challenges for land managers, a problem exemplified by the Friends of the Crazy Mountains v. Erickson case. Exchanging public and private lands to consolidate ownership and negotiating voluntary access agreements, as the Forest Service and private landowners have done, are proven tools to resolve checkerboarding or mitigate its effects.
But these win-win solutions depend on federal agencies having an efficient and flexible process to finalize agreements with neighboring landowners. In this case, Friends of the Crazy Mountains, et al, ask the court to upend established practices under the National Environmental Policy Act and make it unduly difficult for federal agencies and private landowners to work together to resolve access challenges in checkerboard landscapes. The court should reject that invitation.