Chicago, M. & St.P. Ry. Co. v. United States,
244 U.S. 351 (1917)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Chicago, M. & St.P. Ry. Co. v. United States, 244 U.S. 351 (1917)

Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway Company v. United States

No. 176

Argued April 18, 19, 1917

Decided June 4, 1917

244 U.S. 351


The power to establish forest reservations, bestowed upon the President by acts of Congress, includes the power to withdraw lands temporarily from disposition under the public land law in order that they may be examined, and, if found suitable, may be permanently reserved as forests.

An act of the Secretary of the Interior in directing the making of a temporary withdrawal for forest reserve purposes is in legal contemplation the act of the President.

Lands reserved for forest purposes, whether by temporary withdrawal or permanent reservation, are "specially reserved from sale" within the meaning of § 5 of the general railroad right of way act of March 3, 1875, c. 152, 18 Stat. 482, and also, like the military, park, and Indian reservations therein mentioned, are set apart for a public purpose, and are not subject to the provisions of that act.

Under the provision relating to the subject in the Act of March 3, 1899, c. 427, 30 Stat. 1233, a railroad right of way may be obtained over a temporary or permanent forest reservation only if, in the judgment of the Secretary of the Interior, the public interests will not be injuriously affected thereby, and, in exercising his broad discretion under this provision, the Secretary may condition his approval of an application upon the prior filing of a stipulation, binding upon the applicant, respecting the use and enjoyment of the privilege granted, the prevention of forest fires, and compensation for timber cut or destroyed or for other injuries done to the reservation.

Where, for the purpose of securing a right of way under the Act of 1899, supra, with immediate permission to proceed with construction work, a railroad company's agent agreed in writing that it would later execute and abide by a stipulation touching its rights and conduct in the reservation, but the agreement was made subject to ratification by the company, held that the company's action in availing itself of the permission and proceeding with the construction work with knowledge of the manner in which the permission

Page 244 U. S. 352

had been obtained, and its acceptance of ensuing benefits, amounted to an implied ratification of its agent's agreement, binding the company either to execute the required stipulation or to discontinue the construction and operation of its railroad within the reservation.

A suit by the United States to enjoin a railroad company from constructing and operating its road through a national forest in default of the execution and filing by it of a stipulation required by the Secretary of the Interior, and to obtain damages for timber cut and destroyed and for injury done in the course of the construction and operation of such railroad, is cognizable in equity, and a bill praying such relief is not multifarious.

The damages assessed against the appellant in this case are in part justified by the terms of the stipulation which it agreed to execute, and in other respects are sustained by the concurring decisions of the courts below.

In the absence of either cross-appeal by the government or objection by the appellant company, the Court will not decide whether the decree, instead of commanding unconditionally that the company execute the stipulation agreed upon, should not have provided, in the alternative, for ousting the company from the reservation if it did not execute such stipulation within a certain time.

218 F. 288 affirmed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

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