Judge Dismisses Case Against Park Service
On November 26th, U.S. District Judge David G. Campbell dismissed the lawsuit filed by River Runners for Wilderness and several other plaintiffs against the National Park Service, challenging the validity of the 2006 Colorado River Management Plan.
Rather than editorialize, the decision is best related in its own words.
“Plaintiffs have failed to establish that the Park Service acted arbitrarily and capriciously when it adopted the 2006 CRMP. The Court accordingly will grant the summary judgment motions of Defendants and Intervenors and deny the summary judgment motion of Plaintiffs.”
“In sum, the 2001 Policies are not enforceable against the Park Service in this action.
The Policies do not prescribe substantive rules, nor were they promulgated in conformance with the procedures of the APA. Eclectus Parrots, 685 F.2d at 1136. The Court therefore may not set aside the 2006 CRMP because it fails to comply with portions of the 2001 Policies requiring the Park Service to treat the Colorado River Corridor as wilderness or potential wilderness, nor may the Court conclude, as Plaintiffs argue, that provisions of the Wilderness Act are incorporated into the 2001 Policies and binding on the Park Service in this case.”
“The question posed by this lawsuit, therefore, is not whether the 2006 CRMP differs from past Park Service decisions, but whether it is arbitrary and capricious in light of facts in the administrative record and the reasoning of the FEIS. For reasons explained in this order, the Court finds the 2006 CRMP sufficiently reasonable to pass APA muster.”
“This case, by contrast, does not concern a wilderness area. Congress has never acted on the Park Service’s recommendation that portions of the Park be formally designated as
wilderness. The Park Service, therefore, is not under the same “statutory responsibility” that applied to the Forest Service in Blackwell. The Court must look to the Concessions Act, not the Wilderness Act, for the governing legal standard.”
“In sum, the Park Service’s decision concerning the amount of motorized trips on the river was made after considering competing alternatives and a significant number of variables. The Park Service chose an alternative that reduced motorized uses from current levels. The Court is satisfied that the Park Service, as stated in the ROD, determined the “type and level” of traffic on the river that was “necessary and appropriate,” including the
type and level of motorized uses.”
“Given the “judicial presumption favoring the validity of administrative actions” and the “administrative discretion” granted the Park Service under the Concessions Act, [cite omitted], the Court cannot conclude that the agency acted arbitrarily and capriciously when it found that the Modified Alternative H levels of motorized uses were
“necessary and appropriate for public use and enjoyment” of the Colorado River Corridor. 16 U.S.C. § 5951(b). The question is not whether this Court agrees with the Park Service’s decision, but whether it is reasonably supported by the Administrative Record.”
“The Court is satisfied that the Park Service did not act arbitrarily and capriciously when it concluded that Modified Alternative H was consistent to the highest practicable degree with preserving the resources and values of the Corridor. As noted above, the DEIS and FEIS evaluated Modified Alternative H and other alternatives against a large number of
environmental factors. With the exception of the effects of motors on the soundscape of the Park, Plaintiffs do not challenge this evaluation. With respect to the effects on soundscape, the Court finds below that the Park Service did not act arbitrarily and capriciously.”
“Plaintiffs provide no record citations or analysis for impacts they say should have been considered cumulatively. The Court concludes that the Park Service took a hard look at the cumulative impacts of noise from river traffic, including motorized traffic.”
“Given all of these considerations, the Court cannot conclude that the Park Service acted arbitrarily and capriciously when it concluded that motorized uses do not impair the soundscape of the Park within the meaning of the Organic Act.”
The full ruling will very shortly be available on the GCPBA web site, and is posted in the files section of the GCPBA Yahoogroup.
GCPBA is pleased with the outcome of this case. The Board also wishes to thank the many members and other supporters who have donated time and money to support GCPBA in its efforts in this case. We look forward now to devoting our time and energy to expanding GPCBA’s working relationships with the Park and other GC-related organizations, as well as engaging in other projects that will directly benefit the private boating community.
The GCPBA Board