GCNP: AW's Announcement of Lawsuit(7/6/2000)

Posted: 01/16/2002
by Jason Robertson

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 6, 2000
Contact:
  • Byron Hayes, Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association, 1-888-443-0540 or 1-520-214-8676
  • Jason Robertson, American Whitewater, 1-301-589-9453
  • Randall Rasmussen, National Parks Conservation Association, 1-505-247-1221

RIVER RUNNERS AND CONSERVATION GROUPS SUE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE OVER WILDERNESS/RIVER PLAN TERMINATION

Flagstaff, AZ-The Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association, American Whitewater, and National Parks Conservation Association, along with individual plaintiffs including Elizabeth Boussard and Kim Crumbo, filed suit today in federal court against Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt, National Park Service Director Robert Stanton and Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent Rob Arnberger. The suit challenges Superintendent Arnberger's February 23 decision to halt work on a wilderness plan and revised Colorado River management plan. The suit also alleges that the Park Service has failed to protect the wilderness qualities of the Colorado River and failed to provide fair access for all Americans who want to visit the Park via the river.

"We were very disappointed when Superintendent Arnberger ended public participation in the first serious river plan revision in almost 20 years," said Willie Odem, President of Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association (GCPBA).

"This suit is basically about democracy," said Randall Rasmussen, Policy Analyst for National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA). "The NPS has short-circuited a process and our objective is simply to get it back on track so that all parties can continue to participate equally."

"The decision to rob the public of its voice in the Grand Canyon is alarming," said Jason Robertson, Access Director for American Whitewater. "The NPS cannot avoid its responsibilities and simply bury its head in the sand whenever a controversial issue arises. The Superintendent's decision to halt the planning process was incredibly short-sighted, and - unchallenged - will have negative repercussions on other rivers throughout America."

The lawsuit, filed in the federal district court in Phoenix, seeks a resumption of the wilderness and Colorado River planning process at Grand Canyon National Park. Plaintiffs allege that the park's termination of those planning processes and previous management actions have violated the National Park Service Organic Act, Wilderness Act, National Park System Concessions Policy Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Administrative Procedures Act, and National Park Service Management Policies and Plans. Plaintiffs outlined a list of issues the wilderness and river planning process was designed to address, such as motorized uses and river access management.

"The National Park Service has failed to take any action whatsoever to adjust or modify allocation between the American public and the park's river concessionaires in a fair and equitable manner for the last 21 years," said Odem. "The removal of fair market competition between river concessions has resulted in a lack of affordable prices for concessions river trips while Americans wait 20 years to access the Canyon if they want to float the river on their own. Helicopters regularly land at the river's edge to remove concessions passengers from motorized tour boats in the Park's potential wilderness. The Superintendent's removal of the public from voicing concerns and participating in operational planning development of the Colorado River prompted this legal action."

The Colorado River Management Plan has not been substantially revised and opened to public comment since 1989. The 1989 CRMP was intended to be in operation for only five to ten years. The 1995 General Management Plan for Grand Canyon National Park also requires a revision of the Colorado River Management Plan.

Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association (GCPBA) is a 600-member organization with members from across the United States. Its goal is fair and equitable access for all members of the public to our national lands and parks, and to provide a means for private citizens to participate in management planning, protection, and support of these lands, especially at Grand Canyon National Park.

National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) is America's only private, nonprofit citizen organization dedicated solely to protecting, preserving, and enhancing the U.S. National Park System. NPCA was founded in 1919 and today has nearly 450,000 members. "NPCA-Protecting Parks for Future Generations."

American Whitewater is the only national, nonprofit conservation organization dedicated solely to protecting America's whitewater rivers. Founded in 1957, American Whitewater is a membership organization with 8,300 members and 160 canoe and paddling club affiliates nationwide. Its mission is to conserve and restore America's whitewater resources and to enhance opportunities to enjoy them safely.

Three Arizona residents and one resident of Oregon are also plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

The full text of the complaint (160KB) can be found at www.americanwhitewater.org/archive/article/344/.

Jason D. Robertson
635 Joseph Cir
Golden, CO 80403-2349