Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

High Sierra Hikers Ass'n v. Blackwell

ELR Citation: 34 ELR 20084
Nos. Nos. 02-15504 et al., (9th Cir., 08/25/2004)

The Ninth Circuit upheld a district court decision that the Forest Service violated NEPA when it issued multiyear special-use permits and granted renewals of special-use permits to commercial packstock operators in the John Muir and Ansel Adams Wilderness Areas. The Forest Service clearly breached its obligation under NEPA by failing to take the requisite "hard look" at the environmental consequences of the multiyear special-use permits. In addition, the Forest Service impermissibly characterized the one-year renewals of special-use permits as "categorical exclusions" outside the purview of NEPA. The district court's grant of injunctive relief requiring the Forest Service to comply with NEPA was also proper. The district court was incorrect, however, in holding that the requirements of the Wilderness Act had not been violated. The Wilderness Act imposes substantive requirements on an administering agency and that there are triable issues of fact regarding whether the Forest Service permits violated those requirements.