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Niobrara River Ranch, LLC v. Huber

ELR Citation: 34 ELR 20046
Nos. No. 03-3439, (8th Cir., 07/08/2004)

The Eighth Circuit upheld the FWS' denial of a river outfitter's application for an special use permit (SUP) to provide canoe, tube, and kayak outfitting on the Niobrara River in the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge. The outfitter failed to prove that the FWS' temporary moratorium on issuing SUPs to new outfitters is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of agency discretion, or contrary to law. In instituting a temporary moratorium until such time as the river study is completed and a plan defining acceptable river use is prepared and implemented, the FWS properly considered the relevant factors and exercised its broad discretionary authority to manage the refuge. The court also rejected the outfitter's argument that the FWS violated the Refuge Act by implementing a temporary moratorium and by capping weekend river use to 1998 levels. The Refuge Act does not require the FWS to issue SUPs to new outfitters while the FWS studies the need to reduce river use. The outfitter's argument that the temporary moratorium violates the "emergency power" provision of the Refuge Act was also rejected.