RRFW Riverwire - RRFW REJECTS LAWSUIT INTERVENTION ATTEMPTS - Mountain Buzz
 

Go Back   Mountain Buzz > Whitewater Boating > Whitewater Kayaking


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 08-09-2006   #1
 
Tom Martin's Avatar
 
Flagstaff, Arizona
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 928
RRFW Riverwire - RRFW REJECTS LAWSUIT INTERVENTION ATTEMPTS

RRFW Riverwire - RRFW REJECTS LAWSUIT INTERVENTION ATTEMPTS August 9, 2006

On July 25, 2006, the Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association (GCPBA) joined its partner, the Grand Canyon River Outfitters Association (GCROA), a trade association, in attempting to intervene in the River Runners for Wilderness (RRFW) lawsuit to address problems with the Colorado River Management Plan. River Runners for Wilderness, with its partners, Rock the Earth, Living Rivers and Wilderness Watch, sued the National Park Service days after the final plan was released in March 2006.

Attorneys for River Runners for Wilderness and its co-plaintiffs opposed GCPBA’s arguments to join the lawsuit in defense of the National Park Service in a brief filed Monday, August 8, 2006.

In the opposition, the plaintiffs contend that the NPS alone is the responsible party during the merits phase of the case. River Runners Co-Director Tom Martin explains it this way: “The NPS alone sets policy and guidelines that follow laws for managing the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park. The NPS is solely accountable for a river plan that is supposed to follow the laws and policies of our government, and it alone must answer for violation of those laws.”

More crucially, the plaintiffs’ lawyers submit that GCPBA did, upon signing an agreement with the concessions trade association in early 2005, abandon the very causes that it sought to advance in its first lawsuit in 2000. The 2005 agreement forces the GCPBA into the awkward and legally untenable position of appearing in court on the opposite side of the same resource protection and allocation questions the GCPBA stood for in 2000.

In replying to the GCPBA motion for intervention, the plaintiffs’ opposition brief notes “The GCPBA has flip-flopped on the issues and is seeking to intervene to defend the NPS’s CRMP – seeking to defend a CRMP that authorizes certain types and levels of use that the GCPBA specifically challenged in its original lawsuit…. In this case, Plaintiffs allege that the NPS’s concessionaire friendly permit allocation system is “arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion, and not in accordance with the Organic Act.” Complaint at ¶166. If successful this claim will actually benefit noncommercial users such as the members of the GCPBA.” The short legal response to GCPBA’s motion to intervene can be read at River Runners for Wilderness’ home page at www.rrfw.org under “Headlines.”

Additionally, the plaintiff’s lawyers point out that since GCPBA signed an agreement to advance GCROA’s political agenda against wilderness and equitable access and in support of concessionaire operations, it must file one brief together with GCROA.

The court has already agreed to consider the case in two parts. The first part is based on the merits of the case, while the second will be a remedy phase deciding how to move forward to address issues raised in the case. The plaintiffs’ legal team has asked the judge to limit the participation of both GCPBA and GCROA to the remedy phase of the case. Martin notes that the Judge has broad discretion to allow or deny intervention, regardless of the points raised.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
RIVERWIRE is a free service to the community of river lovers from River Runners for Wilderness. Sign up your friends! Send an e-mail address to [email protected] and we'll add it to the RRFW RIVERWIRE e-mail alerts list. Join RRFW’s listserver to stay abreast of and participate in the latest river issues. It’s as easy as sending a blank e-mail to [email protected]. Check out our new items and donate at RRFW Store! RRFW is a project of Living Rivers. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tom Martin is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 08-09-2006   #2
 
placerville, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 781
tom--could you summarize what this means to the private boater trying to get on the river?
steven is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-09-2006   #3
 
Tom Martin's Avatar
 
Flagstaff, Arizona
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 928
RRFW Riverwire - RRFW REJECTS LAWSUIT INTERVENTION ATTEMPTS

Hi Steve, hmmmm...summarize....not my strong point. Let's see....how does this do?

Groups (including one I am the co-director of, RRFW, also known as plaintiffs) are suing Grand Canyon National Park over their new river management plan for the parks mismanagement of wilderness and lack of equitable wilderness access.

Two groups, a concessions trade association (GCROA) and the board of directors of a group originally in favor of wilderness access (GCPBA, 2000), formally agreed in 2005 that commercialization dominance of the river in the summer is OK and that the river should not be protected as wilderness. These groups asked the court if they can intervene in the court case, against the plaintiffs.

In this case, Plaintiffs allege that the NPS’s concessionaire friendly permit allocation system is arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion, and not in accordance with the Organic Act.” If successful this claim will actually benefit noncommercial users such as the members of the GCPBA, against the wishes of the GCPBA board.

The case has been divided into two parts by the Judge, the merits case (Did NPS break the law) and the remedy part (If so, what do we do about it).

The plaintiffs argue that only the NPS is responsible in the merits part, so intervention by others has no meaning. The plaintiffs have asked the judge to limit the interveners participation to the remedy phase. The Judge can do as the Judge wants, allow the intervention or not.

How's that? Yours, tom
Tom Martin is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 08-09-2006   #4
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 2,085
Thanks for the good summary.

COUNT
COUNT is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-09-2006   #5
 
Tom Martin's Avatar
 
Flagstaff, Arizona
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 928
Hey Steve, you got me to thinking. If you don't mind, what would you suggest to make this complicated and contentious issue a little more understandable? We'd like to make this clearer if we can. Thanks for your thoughts, yours, Tom
Tom Martin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-09-2006   #6
 
Caspian's Avatar
 
Englewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1978
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 882
Re: RRFW Riverwire - RRFW REJECTS LAWSUIT INTERVENTION ATTEM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Martin
If successful this claim will actually benefit noncommercial users such as the members of the GCPBA, against the wishes of the GCPBA board.
Tom, I respectfully take issue with your representations here. Toot the wilderness/no-motor horn all you want, that's all well and good. But read what you wrote above - it says that the RRFW claim is actually going to help the GCPBA members, and that the GCPBA board is AGAINST helping its own members. I know you were previously a bigwig at the GCPBA and left over the wilderness/motor issue - and again, that is fine - but please leave the bad blood behind and shoot straight here.

The premise of the above statement is "if successful". What about if it is not successful? There is another side to this whole thing, and that is that the RRFW suit is trying to crack open the process again and get judicial review of the CRMP. The "arbitrary and capricious" standard is VERY hard to meet and courts are VERY deferential to the judgment of agencies like the NPS. While I happen to personally think the NPS' decisions have been arbitrary and capricious, the legal standard is very different from mine.

So I don't think the court is going to go for it. But if they do, consider the fact that the NPS has managed the process for a long time so that it favors the outfitters. I don't think they will have any problem continuing to do so, even under a court order to re-vamp the CRMP. Remember, the big gains that private boaters made in the settlement were just that - in a settlement. If a court orders them to do it over again, there is no guarantee of such a result, and they could easily reduce the number of permits for the privates. That would not in any way be a benefit to the members of RRFW or GCPBA.

Maybe someone who represents the GCPBA could chime in here as to their official position?
__________________
Join up, suckas.
http://www.americanwhitewater.org

"People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid."
- Soren Kierkegaard
Caspian is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-09-2006   #7
 
Tom Martin's Avatar
 
Flagstaff, Arizona
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 928
Hi Caspian, thanks for your post.

Please see www.gcpba.org/content/view/50/28/
to read the agreement that has the GCPBA Board lobby against GCPBA members on this issue.

You are correct in that all we can do in the courts is ask the question. If we loose, we only fall back to the dark ages where we are now.

Yours, Tom
Tom Martin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-09-2006   #8
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,007
Hi,

As in most complex issues, there are other points of view. Tom presents one -- let me give you a few quick facts to consider from the other side, so to speak.

GCPBA is an organization that represents real members, who pay dues and provide its Board with documented surveys about what they want the organization to do. Our member surveys consistently tell the GCPBA Board to emhasize access issues, with wilderness as a strong second. That's a balance the Board works hard to maintain.

The plan that the Park Service adopted didn't include some elements of GCPBA's submission, and it required some compromises. But it included many GCPBA ideas, and provides double the number of launch opportunities for private boaters. That's real people going down the river -- not sitting on a waiting list for decades.

RRFW and GCPBA have different concepts about the definition of wilderness. Folks are entitled to those variances. And from all indications, Tom is a bright, well-informed guy who has made great contributions to the GC community in other ways. He certainly is an excellent writer. But his explanation here falls short in one particularly important way.

The plain language of his court filing highlights the possibility that GC access could be reduced for private boaters -- perhaps even more dramatically than under the old waiting list system. Want to go back to the 25-year waiting list? Want to see user-days and launches reduced -- maybe even lower than under the old system? Trust a Federal judge to make those decisions? Those are possibilities if RRFW were to prevail in their lawsuit.

RRFW denies those things might happen. But the plain language of their most recent court filing says otherwise. In fact, when you read the actual document filed with the Court by RRFW, what jumps out is the way it admits something RRFW openly denied up until now -- that nothing RRFW was doing could impair private boater access to the Grand Canyon.

First, RRFW devalues the chief concern of a significant portion of the private boating community. It does so by asserting that the members of GCPBA have "no tangible, legally protectable, or concrete interest embodied in the CRMP." How about the increased number of launches CGCPBA obtained? Isn't a doubling of launch opportunities a tangible interest -- and not of just GCPBA members, but of private boaters everywhere who want to run the Grand?

Then, after telling folks for months that its lawsuit could not create an adverse impact on access for private boaters seeking to run the Grand, RRFW says in its lawsuit that there is, after all, a, "remote chance that such interests could be impaired if the case is remanded to the agency to 'reconsider its decision to increase the allocation to private boaters.'"

And then there is the place that says, "...there may be a remote chance that, in so doing, it will decide to decrease the permit allocations to private boaters."

These are direct quotes from the recent case filing. Read 'em and weep, or at least worry.

Enough, though. The Buzz usually doesn't focus on GC issues, and I don't intend to get into a debate with Tom in this forum. Most folks here are more concerned about Colorado water law and pesky pickup truck drivers hurling insults.

But for those who are interested in learning more about this issue, you're invited to go to gcpba.org for a lot more detail on this.

Best to you all.

Rich Phillips
VP, GCPBA
richp is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-09-2006   #9
 
Tom Martin's Avatar
 
Flagstaff, Arizona
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 928
Hi Rich, for the readers edification, here is the entire sentence you are referring to:

"In other words, the GCPBA’s alleged interest and harm stems only from the NPS’s reconsideration of its permit allocation system and the remote chance that, in so doing, it will decide to decrease the permit allocations to private boaters. Such an attenuated, generalized threat to GCPBA’s alleged interest does not suffice. See e.g., Portland Audubon Society, 866 F. 2d at 304.1"

I would encourage anyone interested in the exact language to read the complete filling (it's fairly easy reading). Check it out at www.rrfw.org

Rich, most of the increase in trips you mention increase noncommercial use in the winter, with a noncommercial 2% increase in summer trips and a 1 to 7 ratio between noncommercial and concessions people in the summer, while trip lengths were greatly reduced. Real people will now sit on a noncommercial weighted lottery paying yearly lottery application fees, and they may never get a permit to go. That can hardly be counted as a gain worth touting.

A win in this case would require NPS, based on law and policy (not just GCPBA's vision of what wilderness is), to reallocate use on an equitable basis between commercial outfitters and the noncommercial public, which could only benefit non-commercial boaters, who currently face a much longer wait than commercial boaters, even under the new plan.

This is a critical point which you may not have considered. It is of foremost importance to protect the river environment so that it is always there for the public to enjoy. You may disagree with that.

However, under the current system, the public users who have the least impact on the river are the ones who pay the greatest price in terms of access, that is, the wilderness compatible small group sized muscle powered noncommercial river runner. It is inequitable and a win in this case will force NPS to reconsider that inequity and give the non-commercial public the true access it deserves.

Yours, Tom
Tom Martin is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Topic Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
RRFW Riverwire – GROUP ALLOWED TO LAUNCH Tom Martin Whitewater Kayaking 3 02-01-2007 01:59 PM
RRFW Riverwire – GROUP ARRESTED AT LEE’S FERRY Tom Martin Whitewater Kayaking 9 01-31-2007 12:13 PM
RRFW Riverwire - GC SECONDARY LOTTERY STARTS MONDA Tom Martin River Access & Safety Alerts! 0 11-27-2006 03:30 AM
RRFW Riverwire – GRAND CANYON LOTTERY HAPPENING NOW! Tom Martin River Access & Safety Alerts! 2 10-04-2006 07:51 PM
RRFW Riverwire – ASK CONGRESS FOR A GRAND PERMIT Tom Martin Whitewater Kayaking 9 06-17-2006 10:13 AM

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 12:16 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2020 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.