Justia Environmental Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Nevada Supreme Court
Majuba Mining, Ltd. v. Pumpkin Copper, Inc.
This appeal was taken from a district court order in a quiet title action. While the appeal was pending, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) declared twenty-seven unpatented mining claims asserted by Appellant forfeit and void by operation of law because Appellant failed to comply with the statutory mining claim maintenance requirement. Consequently, Respondent filed a motion to dismiss the appeal, arguing that the appeal was rendered moot when the BLM declared Appellant's asserted claims forfeit and void. The Supreme Court granted the motion to dismiss, holding that the appeal was moot because the controversy that existed at the beginning of this litigation concerning superior title was no longer at issue, and Appellant's claims did not exist as a matter of law. View "Majuba Mining, Ltd. v. Pumpkin Copper, Inc." on Justia Law
In re State Engineer Ruling No. 5823
This case concerned State Engineer Ruling 5823, which allocated groundwater rights in the Dayton Valley Hydrographic Basin, which lay wholly within Lyon County. Appellants Churchill County and the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe protested the applications, maintaining that the Basin was severely over-appropriated. The State Engineer rejected both Appellant's protests and granted all pending applications. Appellants filed a petition for judicial review pursuant to Nev. Rev. Stat. 533.540(1), which affords judicial review in the nature of an appeal to any person feeling aggrieved by an order or decision of the State Water Engineer affecting the person's interests. The appeal "must be initiated in the proper court of the county in which the matters affected or a portion thereof are situated." The district court dismissed the petition because the Petitioners filed their appeals in Churchill County, where their rights or interests allegedly would be affected, as opposed to Lyon County, where the applicants' groundwater appropriations lay. By then, section 533.450(1)'s thirty-day limit on seeking judicial review had passed. The Supreme Court vacated the jurisdictional dismissal, holding that the district court read the statute too restrictively. Remanded. View "In re State Engineer Ruling No. 5823" on Justia Law
Redrock Valley Ranch v. Washoe County
Redrock Valley Ranch (RVR) proposed to export water from one hydrographic basin to another in northern Nevada. Both basins lie in Washoe County. The state engineer approved the transfer applications. The county, however, declined to grant RVR a special use permit for the pipelines, pump houses, and other infrastructure needed to make the water exportation plan a reality after determining that the issuance of the special use permit could potentially be detrimental to the public, adjacent properties, or surrounding area. The district court upheld the denial of the special use permit, concluding that substantial evidence supported the county's decision and that the denial did not amount to an abuse of discretion. RVR appealed, arguing that the county did not have authority to deny the special use permit application. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the state engineer's ruling neither preempted nor precluded the county from denying RVR's application for a special use permit for the reasons it did and that substantial relevant evidence supported the county's denial of the permit.
Lawrence v. Clark County
The Nevada legislature amended a law to require the Colorado River Commission (CRC) to transfer land to Clark County. The state land registrar refused to deed a portion of the land to the county, believing the land, which was adjacent to the Colorado River, was nontransferable under the public trust doctrine. Clark County filed a complaint for declaratory relief, and Lawrence filed a counterclaim for declaratory judgment. Clark County then filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings. The district court granted the county's motion and ordered Lawrence to deed the disputed land to the county. Lawrence appealed. At issue was whether state-owned land once submerged under a waterway can be freely transferred to the county or whether the public trust doctrine prohibits the transfer. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that judgment on the pleadings was improper. The Court concluded that whether the formerly submerged land is alienable turns on the unanswered questions of whether the stretch of water that once covered the land was navigable at the time of Nevada's statehood, whether the land became dry by reliction or by avulsion, and whether transferring the land contravenes the public trust.