The opinion of the court was delivered by: Morrison C. England, Jr. United States District Judge
Plaintiffs in this action, which consist of an animal rights group along with a wild horse and burro sanctuary and other concerned individuals, filed this lawsuit in an attempt to halt a planned "gather", or round-up, of wild horses and burros scheduled to commence on August 9, 2010 at the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area ("HMA").
Plaintiffs argued that the planned gather ran counter to the congressional mandate for preserving wild horses and burros as set forth in Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, 16 U.S.C. § 1331, et seq. Plaintiffs also contend that the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA") have been violated because the Environmental Assessment for the gather fails to adequately analyze a reasonable range of alternatives, fails to ensure scientific integrity and dissenting opinion, and consequently fails to take the requisite "hard look" at the proposed action for NEPA purposes. Because of the cumulative impacts occasioned by the gather and its unprecedented scope, Plaintiffs argued that a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement should have been prepared before the gather moved forward.
Plaintiffs initially sought a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to halt the gather. Due to the short time frame associated with that emergency request, The Safari Club International and the Safari Club International Foundation (hereinafter collectively referred to as "Safari Club") initially sought only amicus status for purposes of responding to Plaintiffs' request for injunctive relief.*fn1
This Court's denial of Plaintiffs' request on August 5, 2010 in that regard prompted an emergency appeal to the Ninth Circuit, which was also denied on August 10, 2010, the day after the Twin Peaks Gather was scheduled to commence. Through the motion now before the Court, the Safari Club seeks to increase its role to intervenor as this matter moves into a merits determination. The Safari Club previously submitted comments in support of the subject Twin Peaks Gather Plan, and has filed similar comments in support of gather plans in other areas throughout the American West (See Safari Club's Opening Memo, 4:18-25).
The Safari Club argues that it should be allowed to intervene as a matter of right pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a)(2).*fn2 Alternatively, Plaintiffs seek permissive intervention under the provisions of Rule 24(b).
An intervenor as a matter of right must meet all requirements of Rule 24(a)(2) by showing:
(1) it has a significant protectable interest relating to the property or transaction that is the subject of the action; (2) the disposition of the action may, as a practical matter, impair or impede the applicant's ability to protect its interest; (3) the application is timely; and (4) the existing parties may not adequately represent the applicant's interest.
In evaluating whether these requirements are met, courts "are guided primarily by practical and equitable considerations." Further, courts generally "construe [the Rule] broadly in favor of proposed intervenors." "'A liberal policy in favor of intervention serves both efficient resolution of issues and broadened access to the courts. ///
By allowing parties with a practical interest in the outcome of a particular case to intervene, we often prevent or simplify future litigation involving related issues; at the same time, we allow an additional interested party to express its views before the court.'"
United States v. City of Los Angeles, 288 F.3d 391, 397-98 (9th Cir. 2002) (citations omitted).
Each of the aforementioned requirements articulated in Rule 24(a)(2) will be addressed in turn below.*fn3
A. The Safari Club Has A Significant Protectable Interest Related To The Subject Matter Of This Litigation.
A proposed intervenor has "a 'significant protectable interest' in [the] action if (1) [it asserts] an interest that is protected under some law, and (2) there is a 'relationship' between [that] legally protected interest and the plaintiff's claims." City of Los Angeles, 288 F.3d at 398 (quoting Donnelly v. Glickman, 159 F.3d 405, 409 (9th Cir. 1998)). "The 'interest' test is not a clear-cut or bright-line rule, because '[n]o specific legal or equitable interest need be established.'" Id. (quoting Greene v. United States, 996 F.2d 973, 976 (9th Cir. 1993)). Under the interest, test courts are required "to ...