SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – For a third time since 2003, the 9th Circuit found that the National Park Service failed to come up with a plan that would adequately protect the Merced River in Yosemite National Park.
The three-judge panel upheld U.S. District Judge Anthony Ishii’s decision in 2006 to halt more than $100 million in construction projects, such as moving campgrounds and fixing roads, because the development could harm the park’s ecosystem.
After the Merced flooded in 1997, park officials called for repairs and construction that would alter the river canyon and clear some black oaks near the river.
Friends of Yosemite Valley and Mariposans for the Environment and Responsible Government filed suit in 2000, claiming the government lacked an adequate plan to protect and manage the black oaks, wetlands and wildlife species that thrive along the riverbanks.
Judge Wardlaw said the park service’s 2005 revised management plan fails to address a level of visitor use that will not harm the river, adding that the plan is “reactionary” because it “requires a response only after degradation has already occurred.”
Finally, the court rejected four proposed alternatives, including a daily visitor cap, because they either assumed the existence of a plan the court had already deemed invalid, or because the alternatives were “unreasonably narrow.”