Court Orders Park Service to Prepare Environmental Impact Statement At Glacier Bay

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   March 5, 2001
Contact:   Libby Fayad, NPCA Counsel, 202-223-6722, extension 235


Court Orders Park Service to Prepare Environmental Impact Statement At Glacier Bay

Washington, D.C. - A February 23 ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reverses a prior decision by the U.S. District Court of Anchorage, Alaska, and mandates that the National Park Service complete an environmental impact study on Alaska's Glacier Bay National Park before increasing tourist traffic in park waters. The court also ordered the National Park Service to return traffic level to their pre-1996 levels.

"Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is a irreplaceable ecosystem," said Libby Fayad, counsel for the National Parks Conservation Association. "This case will stand as an important precedent that an Environmental Impact Statement is required when there is uncertainty as to the intensity of the impacts or when there is substantial controversy concerning the approach used by the agency to reach its decision."

The nation's leading park advocacy organization, the National Parks Conservation Association sued the Park Service in May 1997 for violating the National Environmental Policy Act when they proposed to increase marine traffic Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve without preparing an Environmental Impact Statement assessing the impact on wildlife and other park resources.

The Court of Appeals concluded, "There may be no place on Earth more spectacular than the Glacier Bay." A maritime sanctuary surrounded by mountains, the park's diverse habitats protect a wide variety of plant and animal life, including sea lions, porpoises, humpback whales, bears, moose, and mountain goats. The park is a place of "unrivaled scenic and geological values associated with natural landscapes," as well as pristine air and water quality. All these park values could be impacted by increased vessel traffic in Glacier Bay.

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