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Friends of Yosemite v. Frizzell

ELR Citation: 7 ELR 20087
Nos. No. C-75-2144-CBR, 420 F. Supp. 390/10 ERC 1159/(N.D. Cal., 09/27/1976)

The court grants summary judgment for defendants in a suit challenging the construction of sanitation facilities in Yosemite National Park and the approval of advertising promoting use of the park by business conventions. Plaintiffs err in contending that the federal defendants' actions constitute a violation of trust duties imposed upon the Secretary of the Interior by the National Park Service Act. Noting that the decisions in Sierra Club v. Department of the Interior, 4 ELR 20444, 5 ELR 20514, upon which plaintiffs rely, hinged on the language and legislative history of the Redwood National Park Act, the court concludes that both construction of the sanitation facilities and promotion of tourist travel to Yosemite are authorized or clearly contemplated by the National Park Service Act. There is no evidence that defendants have either taken action not authorized by this statute or failed to protect the park in violation of any statutory duty. The court also rejects plaintiffs' contentions that defendants should have prepared and filed environmental impact statements under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) before approving certain advertising by concessionaires or the construction of several wastewater treatment facilities in the park. The privately-sponsored advertising in question cannot be considered major federal action for NEPA purposes because the necessary federal nexus or "partnership" with the sponsor does not exist. The NEPA claim against the sanitation facilities is barred by laches. Plaintiffs had ample time to bring this challenge while the facilities were still in the planning stages, but failed to do so until most of the projects were substantially completed.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Harold McDermid
345 Franklin St.
San Francisco CA 94102
(415) 861-0884

Counsel for Defendants
James L. Browning, Jr., U.S. Attorney
David E. Golay, Asst. U.S. Attorney
450 Golden Gate Ave.
San Francisco CA 94102
(415) 556-1126

John G. Davies
Rosenfeld, Meyer & Susman
444 United California Bank Bldg.
9601 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills CA 90210
(213) 271-9144

William Billick
Latham & Watkins
45th Floor, Atlantic Richfield Plaza
555 South Flower St.
Los Angeles CA 90071
(213) 485-1234