In Defenders of Wildlife v. Everson, — F.3d —, 2020 WL 7759468 (10th Cir. Dec. 30, 2020), environmental organizations challenged the National Park Service’s (NPS) determination that its hunting prohibition in national parks did not apply to state or private land inside Grand Teton National Park. Rejecting an argument that Wyoming had implicitly, through negotiations and other actions, ceded jurisdiction over its land, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit confirmed that states may only cede jurisdiction to the federal government through state legislation by a state legislature.

The Plaintiffs’ Claims Against NPS

Grand Teton National Park (the Park) is an iconic portion of northwest Wyoming, which is home to a large part of the Teton mountain range and to parts of the Jackson Hole valley. Through negotiations between Wyoming and federal government officials in 1949 and 1950, “the Park was [ultimately] created through the Grand Teton Enabling Act, legislation enacted in 1950 that established the modern-day park.” Id. at *4. The federal government owns 99% of the Park, leaving the remaining 1% in the hands of either Wyoming or private parties. Id. at *1.