PARKS:

Judge rejects suit against use plan

A federal judge has rejected a lawsuit challenging new National Park Service rules governing the use of motors by commercial rafters traveling down the Grand Canyon.

Multiple environmental groups filed suit against NPS last year over its Colorado River Management Plan that allowed the continued use of motors by commercial rafters traveling down the Colorado River.

The groups ask the judge to throw out the plan, arguing that the park service ignored its own rules and policies when it developed the plan. The groups, which claim the motors adversely affect the wilderness character of the river, favor a phaseout of motorized rafts.

But Judge David G. Campbell of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona wrote in his ruling that the park service can allow motorized rafts under its own rules and followed the law when it developed its new plan.

He wrote that the park's policy of managing "potential wilderness" as wilderness "does not require the Park Service to remove non-conforming uses -- in this case, motorized rafts. It requires the Park Service to manage the Colorado River corridor as wilderness to the extent possible given the existing use of motors."

The leader of one of the groups said they were disappointed but that they will continue to pursue the issue.

"You haven't heard the last of us," said Jo Johnson, of the Boulder, Colo.-based River Runners for Wilderness. "We're not going to lay down, we're going to keep fighting, because the Grand Canyon is worth it" (Bob Christie, AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, Nov. 28).

Click here to view the ruling. -- EB

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