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State Intervenes in Navigable Waters Case

February 14, 2012, Juneau, Alaska – United States Federal District Court Judge Russell Holland has issued an order recognizing the State of Alaska’s interest in challenging federal authority over state-owned navigable rivers and submerged lands.

The state is now a party to a lawsuit by plaintiff, John Sturgeon, an Anchorage resident challenging the authority of the National Park Service to regulate activities on state-owned waters within national parks and preserves in Alaska. Citing National Park Service regulations, park rangers have prevented Sturgeon from operating his hovercraft on the Yukon and Nation Rivers within Yukon-Charley National Preserve. The Yukon and Nation Rivers are navigable, state-owned waterways, and hovercrafts are legal under state law. Under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), Park Service regulations cannot be applied to state land or water that lies within national parks and preserves.  

“My administration will continue to aggressively push back on federal overreach, and efforts to control Alaskans’ ability to travel on rivers and waterways,” Governor Parnell said. “I am pleased the court recognized Alaska’s strong interest in this issue over the objections of the federal government to our participation in the case.”

The federal government will now be required to file a formal response to the state’s complaint.

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