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Foundation for Horses & Other Animals v. Babbitt

ELR Citation: 28 ELR 21180
Nos. CV-97-3520-KMW (RCx), 995 F. Supp. 1088/(C.D. Cal., 01/13/1998)

The court holds that the National Park Service's (NPS') decision not to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the removal of 12 horses from Santa Cruz Island in the Channel Islands was not arbitrary and capricious. The NPS planned to remove the horses and other animals in order to allow vegetation on the island to return to its natural state. The court first holds that the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) does not require the NPS to consider the effects of the removal of each species separately. The plaintiff environmental group's argument that the NPS is required to consider every permutation of species removal is fundamentally at odds with the purpose, construction, and practical application of NEPA. The court then holds that the NPS took the requisite hard look at the environmental impact of removing the horses. In its draft general management plan/environmental assessment (GMP/EA), the NPS stated that in order to maintain and protect the natural vegetation throughout the island, exotic herbivores had to be removed. Moreover, the NPS explicitly considered alternatives to removing the species, including a no-action option, which was rejected out of fear of harm to the threatened plant species. In addition, the NPS noted in its final GMP/EA that it consulted with the scientific community, landowners, the general public, and governmental agencies in developing the GMP/EA.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
James R. Nichols Jr.
James R. Nichols Jr. Law Offices
1900 State St., Santa Barbara CA 93101
(805) 569-3931

Counsel for Defendants
Leon W. Weidman, Ass't U.S. Attorney
U.S. Attorney's Office
1200 U.S. CtHse.
312 N. Spring St., Los Angeles CA 90012
(213) 894-2434