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Salsedo v. California Dep't of Parks and Recreation

July 29, 2009


(Humboldt County Super. Ct. No. CV080136). Hon. Dale A. Reinholtsen, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Pollak, J.


The California Department of Parks and Recreation (CDPR or the department) appeals a preliminary injunction ordering it to issue to plaintiff Edward Salsedo a permit for vehicle access to Gold Bluffs Beach located within Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. This park is one of three state parks in California‟s north coast that, together with Redwood National Park, a federal park, form Redwood National and State Parks (RNSP), some 105,516 acres of parkland managed cooperatively by CDPR and the National Park Service (NPS). After Salsedo‟s prior permit for vehicle access to Gold Bluffs Beach for the purpose of commercial surf fishing was revoked, he brought a petition for a writ of mandate to compel the department to reissue it. The trial court issued a preliminary injunction awarding such relief pending the final resolution of the action, rejecting, among other arguments, the contention that under the current management structure NPS is a necessary and indispensable party without whose appearance no valid injunction can be entered. According to the department, the injunction that has been entered orders it "to do something it does not have the power to do." We conclude, as did the trial court, that despite the cooperative arrangement for managing the parklands within RNSP, CDPR retains the authority to issue permits for access to the area that remains within state jurisdiction and that NPS is not an indispensable party to these proceedings.


Redwood National and State Parks

In 1968, the United States Congress authorized the creation of Redwood National Park. (Pub.L. No. 90-545 (Oct. 2, 1968) 82 Stat. 931-934.) The boundary that was designated included a significantly larger area than what is now the federally owned Redwood National Park. In anticipation that California might transfer to the United States three of its state parks-Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park-the statute authorizes a single federal park encompassing all of these parks.*fn1 The House of Representatives conference report on the legislation pointed out that under the statute the three state parks "will be acquired only by donation" and continued: "Whether the State will donate its parks and other lands will be up to it to decide. If it decides not to do so, the National Park Service will nevertheless be expected to cooperate with State officials to minimize administrative problems and to offer to the American public a full opportunity to enjoy the beauty and grandeur of the Redwood country." (H.R. Conf. Rep. No. 1890, 90th Cong., 2d Sess. (1968) p. 7.) The conference report also contained the following paragraph of significance to the present dispute: "The conference report recommends the inclusion in the park boundaries of a strip of offshore submerged land one-quarter mile wide the full length of the park. This is done with the understanding that fishing, both sport and commercial, will be allowed to continue in the area involved and that the laws governing the same will be the laws of the State of California." (Id. at p. 9.)

California did not transfer the three parks to the federal government and these state parks remain under the jurisdiction of CDPR. Instead, in 1994 NPS and CDPR entered a memorandum of understanding in which they agreed to cooperate in managing the four parks. In this memorandum, the two agencies agreed, among other things, to "mutually adopt the designation "Redwood National and State Parks‟ . . . for use by both agencies in referring to the area within the congressionally authorized boundary of Redwood National Park," "[t]o the extent practicable . . . to commit the respective resources, staff, equipment and facilities assigned to [RNSP] to the common protection of all resources contained within [RNSP], as well as for the appropriate enjoyment and appreciation of the same by the public, without regard to governmental ownership," and to "seek to attain cooperative operating procedures and practices that result in efficiencies and cost savings accruing to both partners." Further, "[t]o the extent practicable and maintaining agency identity, work performed in [RNSP] will be conducted by personnel without respect to agency affiliation. Through signing, publications and other instruments of communication with the public, the cooperative management of [RNSP] by CDPR and NPS should be projected to visitors, park neighbors and governmental entities."

Pursuant to the memorandum of understanding, in late 1999-early 2000 CDPR and NPS adopted the RNSP General Management Plan/General Plan (the management plan) (). The management plan recites that "Redwood National and State Parks in extreme northwestern California consist of four units - Redwood National Park, which is a federal park under the jurisdiction of [NPS], and three state parks - Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park . . . which are under the jurisdiction of [CDPR]." (Id. atp. 3.) The management plan states that its purpose "is to provide a clearly defined, coordinated direction for resource preservation and visitor use and a basic foundation for decision making and managing these four parks for the next 15 to 20 years." (Ibid.) The management plan was regarded as "the first phase of tiered planning and decision making. Because this plan is relatively general, more detailed, site-specific analyses of specific proposals in this approved plan will be required before undertaking any additional major federal or state actions." (Ibid.)

In the section of the management plan entitled "Public Use, Recreation, and Visitor Safety," the plan describes as an issue the use of vehicles on several beaches within the parks, including Gold Bluffs Beach. "Depending on locations, this off-road vehicle use occurs in connection with [among other activities] commercial surf fishing activities, primarily for smelt, conducted in accordance with provisions of the legislative history of the 1968 Redwood National Park enabling legislation and 1985 General Plan for Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. [¶] Vehicle use on . . . Gold Bluffs Beach is subject to a CDPR permit system." (Id. at p. 59.) The management plan then describes the following proposed action: "NPS and CDPR regulations prohibiting off-road vehicle use will be enforced throughout the parks, resulting in the elimination of all off-road vehicle use other than that which is essential to provide access for commercial surf fishing activities. Off-road vehicle use associated with commercial surf fishing at . . . Gold Bluffs Beach . . . will continue by renewable, nontransferable annual permit only. However, only permits issued between March 1996 and September 1, 1999, will be renewed, no new permits will be issued, and any permit not renewed in a given year will be terminated. These actions will be taken, despite the provision in the national park‟s legislative history, to meet the NPS and CDPR statutory obligations to protect the RNSP resources and enhance public enjoyment of RNSP resources and values, and to provide consistent management of vehicle use on NPS- and CDPR-managed beaches." (Id. at p. 60.)

As contemplated in the management plan, NPS and CDPR subsequently entered "Cooperative Management Agreement[s]" for the cooperative management of RNSP.*fn2

The first such agreement was entered in 2002 for a term of five years, and a substantially similar agreement for another five years was entered in June 2007. The agreements define with greater particularity the respective responsibilities of NPS and CDPR in managing RNSP. Both agencies again agree they shall "[m]utually adopt the designation "Redwood National and State Parks‟ (RNSP) in referring to the area within the congressionally authorized boundary of Redwood National Park" and that they shall "[u]tilize the joint General Management Plan/General Plan approved in 1999/2000, or as may later be modified or amended, to guide the management of RNSP." The agencies agree to "[d]evelop joint operating procedures and standards to ensure effective and efficient accomplishment of RNSP activities" and specifically, "[t]o develop joint procedures for processing permits authorized by the agencies including but not limited to . . . special public uses." The agreements provide that CDPR shall "[s]taff the position of State Park Superintendent to manage the state park lands within RNSP on a day-to-day basis in conjunction with the NPS Superintendent. The State Park Superintendent shall be stationed at RNSP Headquarters in Crescent City, with responsibility and decision-making authority on behalf of" the three state parks, including Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.*fn3

In reaction to the proposed phase-out of special use permits for commercial fishing described in the management plan, in 2006 Congress enacted the Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act (the Act). (Pub.L. No. 109-362, § 10 (Oct. 17, 2006) 120 Stat. 2064.) Section 10 of the Act, a provision entitled "Continuation of Traditional Commercial Surf Fishing, Redwood National and State Parks," provides: "For the sole purpose of continuing traditional commercial surf fishing, the Secretary of the Interior shall permit the right of entry for authorized vehicle access onto the wave slope area at that area known as Gold Bluffs Beach, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park . . . . The number of permits issued under the authority of this section shall be limited to the number of valid permits that were held on the date of enactment of this Act. The permits so issued shall be perpetual and subject to the same conditions as the permits held on the date of the enactment of this Act." (Id., 120 Stat. 2073.)

Salsedo's Permits

Salsedo has fished commercially along Gold Bluffs Beach for many years. Commercial surf fishing requires off-road vehicle access to the beach and for many years he has held annual special use permits authorizing such access. The first such permit in the record is for the period April 1, 1999, to March 31, 2000. This permit is on a letterhead reading, "Redwood National and State Parks, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park" and is signed by Richard C. Sermon, as "State Park Superintendent, Redwood State & National Parks." The permit recites that it is issued "[i]n accordance with Department of Parks and Recreation Order #1-111-3, Section 3, dated April 23, 1985."*fn4 The permits for the subsequent three years are on letterhead referring only to Redwood National and State Parks, are signed by individuals identified as "State Park Superintendent" and as "National Park Superintendent" and recite that they are issued in accordance with the CDPR order and "title 36 Code of Federal Regulations, section[s] 1.5 & 4.10(A)." The 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 permits recite that they are issued in accordance with the same CDPR order "and Redwood National Park enabling legislation (House Conference Report #1890, dated September 11, 1968)." The 2007-2008 permit, the subject of the revocation order, ...

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