Tombstone v. United States

Posted on November 11, 2014

In a showdown between the federal government and the “Town Too Tough to Die,” the U.S. Forest Service is refusing to allow Tombstone to repair its mountain spring water lines after forest fires, floods and torrential mudslides destroyed them in the Monument Fire of 2011. Not content with allowing forest fires to burn down some of the most beautiful land in Arizona, the Forest Service is willing to risk the lives and properties of Tombstone residents and tourists due to the loss of adequate fire suppression capabilities and safe drinking water.

Between May and July 2011, the Monument Fire engulfed a large part of the eastern portion of the Huachuca Mountains. Record-breaking monsoon rains followed. With no vegetation to absorb the runoff, huge mudslides forced boulders to tumble down the mountain sides, crushing Tombstone’s mountain spring waterlines, destroying reservoirs and shutting off Tombstone’s main source of water. In some areas, Tombstone’s pipeline is under 12 feet of mud, rocks and other debris; while in other places, it is hanging in mid-air due to the ground being washed out from under it. In response, federal bureaucrats are refusing to allow Tombstone to unearth its springs and restore its waterlines unless they jump through a lengthy permitting process that will require the city to use horses and hand tools to remove boulders the size of Volkswagens.

Water is indispensable to Tombstone’s hardscrabble existence. The risk of fire to this historic town of wood buildings is real. By refusing to allow the city to freely repair its waterlines to ensure that it has enough water to provide fire protection and safe drinking water, the U.S. Forest Service is threatening to kill “The Town Too Tough to Die.”

Case Documents

Reply in Support of Tenth Amendment Issues (2/20/2012)Motion for Preliminary Injunction (3/30/2012)Memorandum in Support of Preliminary Injunction (3/30/2012)Separate Statement of Facts in Support of Motion for Preliminary Injuction (3/30/2012)First Amended Complaint (3/30/2012)Denial of Preliminary Injunction (5/14/2012)Emergency Motion for Injunction Pending Appeal (5/21/2012)Reply in Support of Emergency Motion Pending Appeal (5/29/2012)Ninth Circuit Denial of Injunction (5/30/2012)Emergency Application to Hon. Justice Kennedy (5/31/2012)Renewed Emergency Application to Hon. Justice Clarence Thomas (6/1/2012)Appellant's Opening Brief (6/11/2012)Coalition of Counties Amicus Brief (6/18/2012)Citizens for Balanced Use Amicus Brief (6/18/2012)Eagle Forum Amicus Brief (6/18/2012)Appellant's Reply Brief (7/23/2012)9th Circuit Denial of Preliminary Injuction Motion (12/21/2012)Petition for Writ of Certiorari (3/1/2013)Coalition of Counties/New Mexico Counties for Stable Economic Growth Amicus Brief (3/29/2013)Cato Institute et al. Amicus Brief (3/29/2013)Verified Second Amended Complaint (12/11/2013)Motion for Summary Judgment (4/11/2014)Separate Statement of Facts in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment (4/11/2014)Tombstone's Brief in Opposition to USA's Motion for Summary Judgment (6/25/2014)Tombstone's Response to USA's Separate Statement of Facts/Controverting Statement of Facts (6/25/2014)Order granting USA's Motion for Summary Judgment (3/12/2015)Judgment in favor of USA (3/12/2015)

Media Coverage

Daily Caller: Another Tombstone Showdown: The Town vs. the Federal Government (3/5/2012)
Rush Limbaugh: Tombstone's Battle with the Feds (4/18/2012)
CNN: Showdown at the H2O Corral (5/10/2012)
John Stossel: A New Showdown in Tombstone (5/10/2012)
Townhall: Why Are the Feds Trying to Kill Tombstone? (5/16/2012)
Washington Examiner: Arizona Burns Amid Obama's Hydraulic Despotism (5/24/2012)
New York Times: With Wild West Spirit, Tombstone Fights for Its Water (6/23/2012)