(CN) - The 9th Circuit upheld the U.S. Forest Service's decision to cancel the grazing permit of a Nevada cattle rancher who repeatedly violated boundary regulations and ignored warnings and suspensions. The judges rejected the rancher's claim that the agency never gave him a fair hearing.
Kenneth Buckingham sued the Forest Service in federal court in Nevada after it canceled his grazing permit in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest for repeatedly letting his cattle graze on allotments that were off-limits.
Buckingham was first issued a grazing permit in 1983. Five years later, he began repeatedly violating the terms of the permit and ignoring numerous warnings and suspensions, according to the ruling.
The Forest Service eventually canceled Buckingham's permit altogether, prompting him to sue the agency for allegedly denying him a fair hearing. Buckingham also argued that the agency failed to issue a permit that clearly defined the boundaries of the off-limit allotments.
The district court ruled that Buckingham failed to exhaust his administrative remedies and that his due process rights had not been violated.
The three-judge panel in Portland, Ore., agreed. The panel acknowledged that "Buckingham's livelihood depends, at least in part, upon the right to graze his livestock on national forest lands," but said protecting those lands and their resources trumps Buckingham's claims.
"Cattle control is a vital aspect of protecting that governmental interest," Judge Milan Smith wrote.
The judges agreed that "by the time the administrative appeal process concluded, the Forest Service had given Buckingham sufficient pre- and post-deprivation procedures to satisfy any due process concerns."
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