July 2020 - Parks & Recreation - 35

etation, to conclude that reducing the deer density to 20 deer
per square mile throughout the Seashore would further the
objective to protect the Seashore's natural vegetation.

federal district court held that NPS was not obligated to
consider FOA's proposed fourth action alternative.

Conclusion
Consider All Reasonable Alternatives
On appeal, FOA had also argued NPS had " violated
NEPA because it did not adequately consider all of the
reasonable alternatives, " including FOA's suggested
fourth action alternative that included all of the shared
" common elements " identified in the three action alternatives. As noted by the court, these three action
alternatives all included " measures to reduce the deer
population that ranged in severity from fertility control
to sharpshooting, " as well as " public education and
fencing that were aimed at managing the impacts of
the remaining deer population. "
While compliance with NEPA regulations requires
an agency to " rigorously explore and objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives, " the federal appeals
court acknowledged it was " well-settled that under
NEPA the range of alternatives that must be discussed
is a matter within an agency's discretion. " 40 C.F.R.
§ 1502.14(a). Accordingly, the court found NPS was
" not obligated to consider in detail each and every conceivable variation of the alternatives stated. " Instead,
compliance with NEPA would only require NPS to
" consider such alternatives to the proposed action as
may partially or completely meet the proposal's goal. "
In this particular instance, NPS had initiated a
lengthy NEPA process to produce a plan that addressed
" the increase in the deer population was negatively affecting the Seashore. " The proposed agency goal of
the NPS Plan was to " manage a viable white-tailed
deer population in the Seashore " in a manner which
was " supportive of the other objectives for this plan/
EIS. " Those other objectives included, among other
things, " promoting natural regeneration of native vegetation and protecting vegetation communities from a
high level of deer browsing. " In order to achieve those
vegetation objectives, the federal appeals court found
NPS had " reasonably determined that a reduction in
the deer population was necessary " to achieve a " target
population density, " which would " allow the recovery
of vegetation impacted by heavy browsing. "
Since the FOA's proposed alternative did not include a
strategy or " mechanism to reduce the deer population, "
the court found the FOA's proposed alternative " fails to
further the Plan's vegetation objectives. " As a result, the

Having found NPS had " considered a reasonable
range of alternatives " and the selection of an alternative which implemented a " Seashore-wide target deer
density level " that was reasonably related to the stated
management objectives in the EIS, the federal appeals
court affirmed the judgment of the federal district court
in favor of NPS.
For more information, see " NEPA Challenge to Park
Sharpshooters for Deer Control, " James C. Kozlowski, Parks
& Recreation, Oct. 2011, Vol. 46, Iss. 10 (tinyurl.com/
ybnk6ukz); and search " Fire Island " on YouTube (tinyurl.
com/yd4epcbh).
James C. Kozlowski, J.D., Ph.D., is an Attorney and Associate Professor in the School
of Sport, Recreation, and Tourism Management at George Mason University (jkozlows@
gmu.edu). Webpage with link to law review articles archive (1982 to present): mason.
gmu.edu/~jkozlows.

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Parks & Recreation

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July 2020 - Parks & Recreation

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of July 2020 - Parks & Recreation

July 2020 - Parks & Recreation - 1
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