In 2019, P. Daniel Smith, NPS acting director at the time, issued a directive that ordered every park to treat e-bikes “in a similar manner” to traditional bicycles. That policy, called the Smith Directive, led to a “Final Rule” that now governs how the NPS treats them; as such, it allows e-bikes on trails throughout the system.
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), however, soon took issue with the measure. The group’s lawsuit, filed in December 2019, alleged that the rule change evaded legally required environmental reviews.
Ultimately, Contreras supported the group’s allegations. The judge’s 52-page opinion found that the Smith Directive bypassed the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in its allowances.