"River Runners for Wilderness" Lose Bid to See Motorized Rafts, Helicopters Banned from Colorado River Corridor in Grand Canyon
A coalition of river runners that believes muscles, not motors, should drive rafts down the Colorado River through Grand Canyon National Park has been rebuffed in its bid to see the National Park Service agree with that belief.
An opinion from the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Tuesday affirmed the U.S. District Court’s entry of summary judgment for the Park Service in the lawsuit brought in 2006 against Grand Canyon Superintendent Steve Martin. The four plaintiffs -- River Runners for Wilderness, Rock the Earth, Wilderness Watch and Living Rivers -- challenged the national park's 2006 Colorado River Management Plan, which among other things, permits the continued use of motorized rafts and support equipment on the Colorado River within Grand Canyon National Park.
A hearing was held in October 2007 in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona in which United States District Judge David G. Campbell rendered a decision in November 2007 in favor of the National Park Service. The plaintiffs appealed that decision in 2008 to the 9th Circuit appellate court. On Tuesday that court adopted the lower court's opinion in its entirety and affirmed its grant of summary judgment for the National Park Service and two intervenors (Grand Canyon River Outfitters Association and Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association), holding that the plaintiffs failed to show that the Park Service acted arbitrarily and capriciously when it adopted the 2006 CRMP.
“We are pleased that the Appeals Court agreed with the District Court in affirming the Park’s Colorado River Management Plan,” said Superintendent Martin. “The plan is the result of many
years of work to protect park resources and provide quality visitor experiences on the Colorado River through Grand Canyon National Park, and required making many difficult decisions after considering extensive analysis of impacts and widely divergent points of view on many issues. We look forward to working with persons of all interests, including wilderness advocates, as we continue to implement the plan.”
A copy of the Court of Appeals 2009 opinion can be found on the park’s Web site at http://www.nps.gov/grca/parknews/upload/APPEL-220576-v1-Riv_Run_9th_Cir_Opinion.pdf, the 2007 District Court judgment can be found at http://www.nps.gov/grca/parknews/upload/alston%20judgment%20112707.pdf.