In an effort to resolve the nagging controversy over the management of more than one million acres of public forests, lakes, and streams in northeastern Minnesota, Congress enacted the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act of 1978 (BWCA Act). Despite its objective, the Act has engendered further controversy. Particularly troublesome are several provisions that regulate the use of motorboats on lakes within and partly within the area. Those provisions test the scope of congressional power over nonfederal property under the property clause of article IV of the United States Constitution.
This Article examines the aged Supreme Court cases under which the constitutionality of those provisions must be judged. Based on the Court's decision in Camfield v. United States, the Article argues that the property clause empowers Congress to regulate conduct on nonfederal property if that conduct frustrates a congressional policy applicable to federal property. It concludes that even though the lakes within and partly within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area are not federally owned, the BWCA Act's regulation of motorboats is a valid exercise of the property clause power.
Eugene R. Gaetke, The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act of 1978: Regulating Nonfederal Property under the Property Clause, 60 Or. L. Rev. 157 (1981).