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Hells Canyon Alliance v. U.S. Forest Serv.

ELR Citation: 31 ELR 20108
Nos. No. 99-35675, 227 F.3d 1170/51 ERC 1449/(9th Cir., 09/14/2000)

The court upholds a U.S. Forest Service recreation management plan that provided for a three-day window every other week during which motorized water craft would be barred from part of the wild section of the Snake River in the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. The court first holds that the Forest Service did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in determining that its restrictions were compatible with the Wild Scenic River Act's conservation objections. The Forest Service's decisions with respect to what uses "substantially interfere" with the river corridor's values must be accorded substantial deference. Moreover, review of the final environmental impact statement (FEIS) indicates that the Forest Service took a "hard look" at the environmental impacts of motorized water craft on the various values of the Snake River. Additionally, the challengers to the management plan have not shown that the agency's limitations on motorized use are arbitrary or capricious, or that the extent to which the agency allows motorized use of the river in fact substantially interferes with the river's outstandingly remarkable values. The court next holds that the plan complies with management directives in the area's land resource management plan. Nothing in the forest plan requires any particular numeric level or ratio of motorized and nonmotorized uses. The court further holds that the Forest Service included a reasonable range of alternatives in the FEIS. The court also holds that the Forest Service's analysis of the window and the methodology it used in the FEIS were adequate. The Forest Service made its decision based on a rational connection between the facts found and the conclusion reached.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Paul A. Turcke
Moore, Smith, Buxton & Turcke
225 N. 9th St., Ste. 420, Boise ID 83702
(208) 331-1800

Counsel for Defendants
Jared A. Goldstein
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000

Before Lay1 and Tashima, JJ.