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Friends of Yosemite v. Kempthorne

ELR Citation: 38 ELR 20072
Nos. No. 07-15124, (9th Cir., 03/27/2008)

The Ninth Circuit affirmed a district court's decision that the comprehensive management plan for the Merced Wild and Scenic River failed to comply with §1274(d) of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act; that the plan was deficient because it was not wholly self-contained; and that the supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) prepared for the plan violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The management plan fails to describe an actual level of visitor use of the river that will not adversely impact the river's "Outstanding Remarkable Values," and instead calls for action only after damage has occurred. Further, the management plan is flawed because it is not presented as a single, comprehensive document that addresses all required elements. Finally, the SEIS violates NEPA because the “no-action” alternative assumes the existence of the very plan being proposed; the three action alternatives are unreasonably narrow; and for the first five years, the interim visitor limits proposed by the three alternatives are essentially identical.