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National Parks and Conservation Association v. Stanton

United States District Court for the District of Columbia
54 F.Supp.2d 7 (1999)


Facts

The Niobrara National Scenic River (river) ran largely through private land in Nebraska. Over local opposition, Congress designated portions of the river as components of the Wild and Scenic Rivers system. Congress created the Niobrara Scenic River Advisory Commission (Commission) to represent local interests in the development of a management plan for the river area. The National Park Service (NPS) (defendant) and the Commission developed a General Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (GMP/EIS), which included four alternatives for river administration. The NPS selected Alternative B, which authorized management by a local council. The NPS then entered into an interlocal agreement with local government entities to establish the Niobrara Council (Council), which was composed of 15 members representing primarily local commercial and landowning interests. The Council included one NPS representative, and decisions were made by a majority vote. The interlocal agreement encouraged the Council to seek outside funding sources in order to prevent the NPS from controlling the Council’s decisions. A cooperative agreement between the Council and the NPS allowed the NPS to terminate the agreement and implement another river-management alternative if the Council failed to manage the river as specified in the GMP/EIS. The National Parks and Conservation Association and others (plaintiffs) sued NPS Director Robert Stanton and the secretary of the interior (defendants), claiming that the adoption of Alternative B involved an unlawful delegation of responsibility. The plaintiffs sought an injunction requiring the NPS to manage the river and to complete a more thorough EIS. Both parties moved for summary judgment.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kessler, J.)

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