Image: Joshua Tree National Park
Gabriel Bouys  /  AFP-Getty Images
The Joshua Tree National Park in southeastern California
updated 11/11/2009 5:35:03 PM ET 2009-11-11T22:35:03

A federal appeals court panel on Tuesday upheld a 2005 court decision that effectively halted the development of what would have been one of the nation's largest landfills near Joshua Tree National Park.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel let stand a ruling that prevented development of the Eagle Mountain Landfill in an abandoned iron ore mine.

Kaiser Ventures of Ontario wanted to develop the dump, which would have received 20,000 tons of trash from Los Angeles County daily for 117 years. The 4,654-acre site is about 1.5 miles from the park's boundaries and surrounded by the park on three sides.

Two jojoba farmers sued more than 20 years ago to stop a Bureau of Land Management deal necessary for the development. The National Parks Conservation Association later joined the case.

Environmentalists said the ruling was a "major victory" that protects bighorn sheep and the endangered desert tortoise by inflating the population of predators like coyotes and ravens.

Kaiser Ventures and the Bureau of Land Management can appeal the decision to the full appeals court. A call to their attorneys was not returned Tuesday night.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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