Wilderness Public Rights Fund v. Kleppe
608 F.2d 1250 (9th Cir. 1979)
The National Park Service
(NPS) did a study of the effects of boating on the Grand Canyon and
concluded that there needed to be a limit on the number of boaters in order
to preserve the environment.
NPS issued an interim rule
freezing the number permits to 96,600 user-days per year. The study
apportioned the permits between commercial operators (who took tourists
down the river), and non-commercial, recreational boaters who went down
the river themselves.
NPS gave 92% to the
commercial operators, leaving only 8% to the non-commercial boaters.
Btw, before this case
reached the Appellate Court, the NPS issued a final rule that gave 30% to
the non-commercial boaters and 70% to the commercial operators.
The non-commercial boaters
(organized into the WPRF) sued in two separate cases.
WPRF claimed that it was
unfair that 92% of the permits went to tour companies, and that
non-commercial boaters should get priority.
Both Trial Courts found for
NPS. WPRF appealed.
The Appellate Court affirmed.
The Appellate Court looked
to the wording in the National Park Service Organic Act (16 U.S.C. §3) and found that NPS has the responsibility to
manage the National Parks.
The Court found that NPS had
to balance the rights of the tour companies and the non-commercial
boaters and allocating a percentage to each group was reasonable (aka not
arbitrary and capricious).
The Court noted that the
commercial operators did provide an important service since they allowed
non-experienced boaters to enjoy the river.
Since NPS had changed their
allocation, the Court chose not to decide whether the 92%-8% split had