GCPBA NEWSwire - 7 February 2010
Court Affirms NPS CRMP/Rejects RRFW Appeal
On February 1, 2010, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in
favor of the National Park Service, affirming two earlier Federal court
decisions supporting the 2006 Colorado River Management Plan (CRMP).
In doing so, the Court rejected a wide range of claims by River Runners
For Wilderness (RRFW) that the CRMP should be found "unlawful and set
In a lengthy and detailed decision, the Court ruled that the CRMP had
not been developed in an arbitrary or capricious manner. It found that
the NPS had adequate information in hand to justify its findings and the
resulting CRMP. It also ruled that a variety of statutory and regulatory
requirements had been met in the way the CRMP had been formulated.
A primary thrust of the RRFW effort was to remove motorized boats from
the river corridor. The court responded that the motor issue was outside
it's jurisdiction, "The court's task is not to make its own judgment
about whether motorized rafts should be allowed in the Colorado River
Corridor. Congress has delegated that responsibility to the Park Service."
RRFW asserted that "the Park Service failed entirely to determine that
the types and levels of commercial services authorized by the 2006
Management Plan are necessary and appropriate." The judges disagreed
citing numerous examples of the processes of determination employed by
Specific sections of the ruling also affirmed the method of allocation
between private and commercial boating interests. RRFW charged that
allocation between commercial and non commercial users "is inequitable
and thus limits the free access of members of the public." To which the
Court found the nearly 50/50 split of user day allocation to be fair.
The Justices went on to note, "More generally, Plaintiffs tend to
characterize the dispute as one between commercial companies and private
citizens. This is not the true nature of the issue:" Adding this
clarification, "The basic face-off is not between the commercial
operators and the non-commercial users, but between those who can make
the run without professional assistance and those who cannot."
RRFW also challenged the NPS findings regarding the impact of
boating-related noise in the GC river corridor. To which the Court
responded "if a cumulative analysis were to result in the elimination of
all sounds that can be eliminated by the Park Service — in this case,
all sounds other than aircraft over- flights, which are not within the
jurisdiction of the Park Service — then all human activity in the Park
would be eliminated."
The Court specifically noted the favorable impact on the process, of
cooperation between previously contending interests (represented by
GCPBA, the Grand Canyon River Outfitters Association, the Grand Canyon
River Runners Association, and American Whitewater).
See the full decision here:
Or at: gcpba.org
RRFW may appeal the decision of the 9th Court of Appeals to the Supreme
Court. GCPBA attorney Lori Potter states, "RRFW may, if it so chooses,
file a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case. The
Supreme Court does not have to hear the case. In fact, it chooses to
accept something less than 1% of the cases it is petitioned to take."
Continuing "Today's denial from the Court of Appeals is likely the last
word from any court on the CRMP."
GCPBA wishes to acknowledge and thank its three partners in our effort
to support the 2006 CRMP, AW, GCROA, GCRRA, the fine representation
provided GCPBA by Lori Potter of Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell LLP, and the
many GCPBA members and other supporters who helped underwrite the
lengthy and costly process of helping the Park defend the CRMP.
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