Public Lands

Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell’s work in the public lands arena is diverse: we represent proponents, opponents, and affected users or neighbors in matters involving the use of state and federal public lands.  This includes counseling clients on major development projects on or adjacent to public lands; counseling clients who are participating in land exchanges with governmental entities; litigating proposals for federal action affecting public lands and resources; assisting clients in obtaining rights-of-way across public lands; and advising clients whose private land or water resources are being affected by activities on public land.  We frequently advise affected parties during the environmental impact review process.  Our public lands practice overlaps with our other practice areas, including airports, environment and conservation, project development, and litigation.

Our clients include local governments, owners of mountain property, public land permittees, rafting companies, nonprofit organizations, and others with an intense interest in the management and use of publicly owned land.  We have developed special expertise in the complex statutory schemes governing public lands and their resources: the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA); the Wilderness Act; the National Forest Management Act (NFMA); the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA); the Endangered Species Act; Section 4(f) of the Transportation Act; the National Historic Preservation Act; the Clean Water Act; and state laws affecting state and local park land, school trust land, and open space.

Representative Cases

Rags Over the Ark. River, Inc. v. BLM, No. 12-cv-0265-WJM, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 324 (D. Colo. Jan. 2, 2015) (defended permittee’s interest in permit for temporary installation of a public work of art on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land)

Roger Seherr-Thoss v. Teton County Board of County Commissioners, 329 P.3d 936 (Wyo. 2014) (represented Teton County in gravel permitting matter)

Clark County v. FAA, 522 F.3d 437 (D.C. Cir. 2008) (successfully challenged federal agency approval of siting of towers near end of proposed new airport runway)

River Runners for Wilderness v. Martin, 2007 Westlaw 4200677 (D. Ariz. 2007), aff'd, 574 F.3d 723 (9th Cir. 2009) (successfully defended agency’s allocation of permits and management prescriptions for Colorado River through Grand Canyon National Park)

Representative Experience

  • Represented a local government invalidating old mining claims.
  • Represented a nonprofit organization seeking to protect roadless areas in national forests from oil and gas development.
  • Represented a biological laboratory performing climate change-related research in a national forest.
  • Represented local governments seeking to ensure consistency of energy development projects with local plans and infrastructure.
  • Represented artists seeking a federal permit to install a work of art on public lands.
  • Represented rafting companies seeking access to run trips using public land.
  • Represented a business seeking to develop school trust lands while preserving large tracts as natural prairie.
  • Represented municipal entities concerned about Grand Canyon overflight regulations.
  • Represented a ranch participating as an affected party in a federal land exchange to recruit a conservation buyer to take title to a portion of the exchanged lands.
  • Represented a homeowners’ association protecting instream flows in a river through the area.