FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
MASSACHUSETTS [Hon. Patti B. Saris, U.S. District Judge]
A. Chicoine, with whom Edward S. Englander, Shannon F.
Slaughter, and Englander, Leggett & Chicoine P.C. were on
brief, for appellant.
Christine J. Wichers, Assistant United States Attorney, with
whom Carmen M. Ortiz, United States Attorney, was on brief,
Howard, Chief Judge, Selya and Kayatta, Circuit Judges.
a rara avis: a case that implicates the Land and Water
Conservation Fund (LWCF), a fund administered under the
eponymous and seldom litigated Land and Water Conservation
Fund Act (LWCF Act), 54 U.S.C. §§ 200301-200310.
The underlying controversy pits two government agencies
against each other. The district court resolved this clash in
favor of the defendants, the National Park Service (NPS) a
bureau within the United States Department of the Interior
and Sally Jewell, in her capacity as Secretary of the
Interior. See Bos. Redev. Auth. v.
Nat'l Park Serv. (BRA I), 125 F.Supp.3d
325, 337 (D. Mass. 2015). Concluding, as we do, that NPS
acted neither arbitrarily nor capriciously in making the
determination that the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA)
challenges, we affirm.
tug-of-war involves a prime piece of real estate jutting into
Boston Harbor. This piece of real estate, called Long Wharf,
is currently the site of a hotel and restaurant, and it
serves as a launch site for a variety of harbor tours, whale
watches, and passenger boats. An open pavilion stands at the
northern side of the wharf. The BRA, a public body created
pursuant to state statutory law, see Mass. Gen. Laws
ch. 121B, § 4, is tasked with pursuing urban renewal and
other public development activities in the City of Boston.
The BRA wishes to develop the Long Wharf pavilion for
commercial purposes (specifically, an additional restaurant
and bar). NPS has refused to grant the BRA permission to do
so, insisting that the land remain open for recreational use.
sheds some light on this dispute. When the BRA acquired title
to Long Wharf in the 1970s, the wharf was decrepit and in
need of repairs. Since then, the BRA has developed Long Wharf
into a thriving waterfront venue. It improved Long Wharf
using, in part, an LWCF grant made available through the LWCF
Act.See 54 U.S.C. § 200305(a).
LWCF Act provides "financial assistance" to states
for "[p]lanning, " the "[a]cquisition of land,
water, or interests in land or water, " and related
"development" all for "outdoor
recreation" purposes. Id. This financial
assistance comes with strings attached: Section 6 of the LWCF
Act forbids grant recipients from converting "property
acquired or developed" with LWCF assistance to
"other than public outdoor recreation use" without
prior NPS approval. Id. § 200305(f)(3). A
parcel of land acquired or developed with the aid of an LWCF
grant becomes a so- called Section 6(f) Area and - absent
agency consent - must be preserved in perpetuity. See
id.; see also 36 C.F.R. § 59.3. A funding
recipient may convert the Section 6(f) Area only if it
furnishes substitute "recreation properties of at least
equal fair market value and of reasonably equivalent
usefulness and location." 54 U.S.C. § 200305(f)(3);
see 36 C.F.R. § 59.3(a).
seeking an LWCF grant must submit a detailed application that
includes, among other things, a proposal explaining the
project type, scale, and expected cost. According to the NPS
manual in effect when the BRA's application was
submitted, this proposal also must contain a "project
boundary map" identifying the Section 6(f) Area. That
map must limn the area in sufficient detail to adequately
identify the property that is subject to Section 6(f)
restrictions. The manual suggests that such a map might
include a metes and bounds description of the protected area,
a survey of that area, or a description of adjoining
waterways or other natural landmarks.
now from the general to the specific. The LWCF Act authorizes
states, but not other governmental units, to apply for LWCF
funding. See 54 U.S.C. §§ 200301(2),
2003005(a). Consequently, local redevelopment agencies
interested in receiving LWCF grants apply through the state
in which they are located. So it was here: in March of 1980,
the BRA applied to NPS, through the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts (the Commonwealth),  for an $825, 000 grant to
redevelop Long Wharf. NPS approved the application in the
spring of 1981. Serial project agreements were thereafter
executed (one between NPS and the Commonwealth and the other
between the Commonwealth and the BRA). Between 1981 and 1986
(when the grant was closed), the BRA received almost $800,
000 in LWCF monies.
facts that we have set forth above are uncontroverted.
Looking back, however, the parties dispute whether a
particular piece of real estate on the northern side of Long
Wharf (which we shall call the Pavilion area) is subject to
Section 6(f) restrictions. We pause here to describe the
provenance of the dispute.
2006, the BRA began planning to redevelop and expand the
Pavilion area to accommodate a new waterfront restaurant and
bar. This embryonic venture came to NPS's attention in
2009, and NPS instructed the Commonwealth to research whether
the contemplated project fell within the Section 6(f)
boundaries established in 1980. Relying on a 1983 map in its
files, the Commonwealth determined that the Pavilion area was
outside the Section 6(f) boundaries. NPS acquiesced and, as a
result, the Commonwealth informed the BRA that the project
2012, however, correspondence from retired NPS employees
prompted NPS to revisit its conclusion. Upon further
investigation, NPS discovered in its files a map hand-labeled
"6f boundary map 3/27/80." This 1980 map, which the
parties agree a NPS employee labeled, depicted a Section 6(f)
Area encompassing the entire northern side of Long Wharf
(including the Pavilion area). NPS staff noted that the 1980
map was consistent with other materials in the agency's
files describing the Long Wharf project and determined that
the 1980 map was the official project boundary map. NPS
notified the Commonwealth of this determination. The
Commonwealth, in turn, told the BRA that it could not convert
the Pavilion area into a restaurant and bar without further
matter did not end there. In April of 2014, representatives
of the BRA, the Commonwealth, and NPS met to discuss
NPS's determination and to give the BRA an opportunity to
present its contrary view. The BRA distributed photographs,
maps, and reports, and the parties toured Long Wharf on foot.
NPS was unmoved: that same month, it sent a letter to the
Commonwealth confirming its determination that the Pavilion
area fell within the Section 6(f) Area. In June, NPS issued
its final decision, accompanied by a detailed explanation of
by this untoward turn of events, the BRA sued NPS in the
United States District Court for the District of
Massachusetts. The BRA's complaint invoked the
Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the LWCF Act, the
Declaratory Judgment Act, and various state laws. After the
parties completed a course of discovery designed to
supplement the administrative record, cross-motions for
summary judgment were filed. The district court ...