Grand Canyon Litigation Update

On March 28, 2006, a coalition of groups challenged the National Park Service Colorado River management Plan decision to continue to allow commercial motorized rafting tours and helicopter passenger exchanges through Grand Canyon National Park.

The groups, River Runners for Wilderness, Rock the Earth, Living Rivers and Wilderness Watch, are defending this crown jewel of the National Park system and every visitor's right to a pristine wilderness experience in the backcountry and on the river.

In addition to the Park Service's failure to remove motorized tour boats and helicopters in a qualifying wilderness area, the agency's decision to perpetuate the inequitable allocation of river running permits is also at issue. Currently, commercial tours receive priority over public opportunities for do-it-yourself rafting and kayaking in the summer.

On July 25, 2006, the Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association (GCPBA) joined its partner, the Grand Canyon River Outfitters Association (GCROA), a trade association, in attempting to intervene in the lawsuit to address problems with the Colorado River Management Plan.

Attorneys for River Runners for Wilderness and its co-plaintiffs opposed GCPBA's and GCROA's arguments to join in the merits phase of the lawsuit in defense of the National Park Service in a brief filed Monday, August 8, 2006.

On October 17, 2006, Judge John Campbell allowed the interveners to join the litigation, using his discretion to allow intervention.

The Judge also ordered that the interveners abide by the schedule already set for the case.

The court has already agreed to consider the case in two parts. The first part is based on the merits of the case, while the second will be a remedy phase deciding how to move forward to address issues raised in the case.