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United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Rules in Favor of National Park Service in Lawsuit Challenging Grand Canyon National Parks Colorado River Management Plan

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Grand Canyon, Ariz. – An opinion was filed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit today, affirming the United States District Court’s entry of summary judgment for the National Park Service in a lawsuit titled “River Runners for Wilderness, et al v. Stephen P. Martin, et al.

A coalition of four wilderness advocacy groups (River Runners for Wilderness; Rock the Earth; Wilderness Watch and Living Rivers) brought suit against the National Park Service in March 2006, under the Administrative Procedures Act, challenging the park’s 2006 Colorado River Management Plan (CRMP), 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 heard oral arguments, and then rendered a decision in November 2007 in favor of the National Park Service. The Plaintiffs appealed that decision in 2008 to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Today, the United States Court of Appeals adopted the District 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,” stated Steve Martin, Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent. “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.”
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