608 F.2d 803
SYNOPSIS: Appellant cattle ranchers challenged the decision of the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, which entered summary judgment for appellee government in appellants' actions seeking judicial review of the Department of Agriculture's reductions in their grazing permits.
OVERVIEW: Appellee department of agriculture reduced appellant cattle ranchers' permits to graze public lands, finding that the public land involved had been damaged by overgrazing. Appellants brought suit in the district court against appellees, department and secretary of agriculture, the forest service, and related parties, challenging the reductions and seeking judicial review after appellants exhausted their administrative remedies. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of appellees.
The court found that a narrow review was appropriate and that the district court should have ascertained whether the agency's factual findings as to range and conditions and carrying capacity were arbitrary and capricious under 5 U.S.C.S. § 706(2)(A). The court vacated the judgment of the district court and remanded for such a factual review.
-The Administrative Procedure Act statest: This chapter on judicial review applies except to the extent that agency action is committed to agency discretion by law. 5 U.S.C.S. § 701(a)(2).
-The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, 43 U.S.C.S. § 1701 et seq., empowers the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture, each of whom grants grazing privileges on public lands within departmental jurisdictions, to incorporate in grazing permits and leases such terms and conditions as the secretary deems appropriate for management of the lands. 43 U.S.C.S. § 1752(e). -The same section also states that the secretary must specify in the agreement the numbers of animals to be grazed and that the secretary may reexamine the condition of the range at any time and, if he finds on reexamination that the condition of the range requires adjustment in the amount or other aspect of grazing use, that the permittee or lessee shall adjust his use to the extent the secretary concerned deems necessary.
-A district court should ascertain whether the agency’s factual findings as to range conditions and carrying capacity are arbitrary and capricious. 5 U.S.C.S. § 706(2)(A). If not, the matter ends there.
OUTCOME: The court vacated the judgment of the district court and remanded for the very limited factual review available under the arbitrary and capricious standard.
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