Dunleavy files notice of intent to sue Deb Haaland over 10 rights-of-way in Yukon-Charley National Preserve

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The State of Alaska Department of Law advanced Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s statehood defense initiative by filing a 180-day legal notice of its intent to sue Sec. of Interior Deb Haaland and the Department of Interior over 10 State-owned rights-of-way within the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve.

Once filed, the lawsuit will focus on an efficient approach toward confirming State ownership of 500 linear miles of historically documented rights-of-way in the Interior.

The State contends the easements were granted to the State by federal Revised Statute 2477 or “RS 2477.” The law gave the State automatic easements to certain public trails established across public lands. 

From small trails to major roadways, RS 2477 rights-of-way comprise a large part of Alaska’s transportation network. 

The Dalton Highway, Farmers Loop Road in Fairbanks, the Iditarod Trail are a few of the hundreds of codified State RS 2477 routes that were created under this law.

Multiple State efforts have coalesced under Dunleavy’s “Unlocking Alaska Initiative,” launched in 2021. Under the initiative, the Departments of Natural Resources and Law redoubled efforts to ensure that public access to Alaska’s lands and natural resources is recognized by the federal government, be it access via State-owned rights-of-way or by State-owned submerged lands.

“I will continue to fight for Alaskans to have full access to our lands and water bodies, and for the State to manage all submerged lands that were granted to us 63 years ago,” Dunleavy said. “This is the promise that was made to Alaska at statehood in 1959. Alaskans deserve better.”

The Yukon-Charley Rivers notice represents the State’s first attempt to tackle rights-of-way in an entire conservation system unit, instead of focusing on individual roads on a smaller scale.

“Lawsuits are historically expensive, time-consuming, and concerned with isolated rights-of-way instead of a more holistic approach to regional transportation networks,” Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor said. “We want to work with the federal government to improve these processes rather than litigate mile-by-mile.”

Alaska resident John Sturgeon took his fight for access on navigable State waterways to the U.S. Supreme Court in this same region and won – twice.

“I applaud and endorse Alaska’s efforts to quiet title to its land-based network of RS 2477 rights-of-way within the Yukon Charley Rivers National Preserve. Such routes often provide the only available land-based public access to many parts of the State and are vital to Alaskans. They connect all of us to the vast resources of our State; to the communities and places we need to access; and to the people we need to see. Alaska’s intended quiet title litigation will advance and support the public access that is vital to all of us,” Sturgeon said.

Current Quiet Title Act cases against the federal government include litigation concerning several of the historic trails in the Chicken area, and navigability cases involving the North Fork of the Fortymile River, Middle Fork of the Koyukuk River, Bettles River, Dietrich River, Mulchatna River, Chilikadrotna River, Twin Lakes, Turquoise Lake, Mendenhall River, and Mendenhall Lake.

The historic trails in this pending lawsuit include:

Eagle–Alder Creek Trail aka RST 11: This trail begins on the west side of the Eagle, Alaska townsite and travels upstream along Mission Creek to the confluence with Excelsior Creek. Continuing up Excelsior Creek for approximately one mile, the trail then heads up an unnamed creek entering Excelsior Creek from the north. From this creek the route continues overland in a northwesterly direction through the headwaters of Phoenix Creek, then descends Rock Creek to its confluence with Hudson Coulee. The trail then splits to the north and west before coming back together in the Seventymile River valley. The trail then continues approximately two miles to Curtis Bar Creek where it branches to either side of the Seventymile River before meeting itself again near the mouth of Crooked Creek. After this point, the trail continues up the Seventymile River drainage and splits south paralleling both Flume Creek and Alder Creek while the western branch continues up the drainage to the base of Mt. Sorenson. The route is located in the United States Geological Survey 1:63,360 Eagle Quadrangle D-1, D-2, D-3, and D-4 as well as Charley River Quadrangle A-3 and A-4. The total length of the trial is approximately 60 miles.

Eagle–Circle Mail Trail aka RST 67: This trail begins on the west side the town of Eagle, Alaska. From the western edge of town, this route follows the Yukon River until Boulder Creek where it heads northwesterly overland to Ford Lake, then continues until it rejoins the Yukon River at the mouth of the Seventymile River. This trail then follows the Yukon River for approximately 135 miles occasionally traveling on uplands or across islands. The route is located in the United States Geological Survey 1:63,360 Eagle Quadrangle D-1, Charley River Quadrangle A-1, A-2, B-2, B-3, B-4, B-5, B-6, C-6, as well as Circle Quadrangle C-1, and D-1. The total length of the trial is approximately 160 miles.

Trout Creek Trail aka RST 803: Starting at the mouth of Trout Creek, this trail heads south following the creek upstream for approximately 6 miles. At Gillman Creek the trail forks to the southwest and ascends the draw onto the ridge. This trail continues west along the ridge before dropping into Little Washington Creek and joining the Eagle-Alder Creek Trail aka RST 11. The route is located in the United States Geological Survey 1:63,360 Charley River Quadrangle A-2 as well as Eagle Quadrangle D-2. The total length of the trial is approximately 16 miles.

Nation River-Rampart House Trail aka RST 466: RST 466 begins on the alluvial fan where the Nation River meets the Yukon River. The trail crosses the Nation River multiple times as it follows the valley bottom upstream and includes spurs and tributary routes entering the river from the southeast. After Jungle Creek, the trail follows a drainage north before reaching the US-Canadian border. Once at the border the trail heads north, weaving in and out of Canada for the remainder of its length. The route is located in the United States Geological Survey 1:63,360 Charley River Quadrangle A-2, B-1, B-2, C-1, D-1, Black River Quadrangle A- 1, B-1, C-1, D-1 as well as Collen Quadrangle A-1, B-1. The total length of the trial is approximately 170 miles.

Fourth of July Creek Trail aka RST 286: Fourth of July Creek trail begins near a side channel of the Yukon River south of Nation Reef. The trail follows the side channel and parallels Michigan Creek for approximately 0.75 miles. The trail then leaves Michigan Creek heading south approximately 2 miles before it meets Fourth of July Creek. After joining Fourth of July Creek, the trail continues upstream to the creek’s headwaters. At the confluence of Crowley Creek and Fourth of July Creek, a spur trail heads downstream to a cabin near the confluence. From the headwaters of Fourth of July Creek, the trail turns south up Ruby Creek. The route ascends to the ridge and follows the sidehill into the headwaters of Washington Creek. The route is located in the United States Geological Survey 1:63,360 Charley River Quadrangle A-2, and A-3. The total length of the trial is approximately 20 miles.

Rock Creek Trail: Rock Creek Trail begins at the Yukon River on the north, opposite the mouth of Logan Creek, and proceeds north following the Rock Creek valley. The route ascends to the top of the valley and crosses a low pass, then descends north through an unnamed creek valley before it meets the Kandik River upstream of Johnson Gorge. The route is located in the United States Geological Survey 1:63,360 Charley River Quadrangle B-2. The total length of the trial is approximately 19 miles.

Washington Creek Trail aka RST 1921: This route starts on the Yukon River near the location of the Washington Creek roadhouse. The trail crosses lowlands as it heads southeast toward Washington Creek. The trail continues up the valley paralleling the river for approximately 13 miles to the vicinity of Strawberry Dome. The terminus of this route is approximately 4 miles past Strawberry Dome near the headwaters of Washington Creek valley. The route is located in the United States Geological Survey 1:63,360 Charley River Quadrangle A-3 and B-3. The total length of the trial is approximately 19 miles.

Sam Creek Cutoff: From the confluence of the Yukon River and Sam Creek this route follows the valley of Sam Creek south along the western slope. The route then parallels Ben Creek to the West as it ascends the draw and forks to gain the northern ridgeline in two different locations. After rejoining at the crest of the ridge, the Sam Creek Cutoff then follows the ridge before descending a drainage south of the Coal Creek landing strip to meet RST 226 near the confluence of Coal and Boulder creeks. The route is located in the United States Geological Survey 1:63,360 Charley River Quadrangle B-4 and B-5. The total length of the trial is approximately 14 miles.

Woodchopper–Coal Creek aka RST 226: This route begins at the confluence of Woodchopper Creek and the Yukon River. Before leaving the alluvial plain, a spur trail heads upriver to the Woodchopper Roadhouse. The main route continues up the Woodchopper Creek valley primarily staying on the western slope. After meeting the Woodchopper placer mine and associated cabins the trail splits into two spurs near the confluence of Mineral Creek. The first spur intersects the Bielenberg Trail and continues for approximately 2 miles down the Woodchopper valley. The second spur leaves the area of the placer mine and ascends the Mineral Creek drainage. From this point, the trail follows the prominent southeast ridge toward Slaven Dome before descending into the Coal Creek valley. Once at the valley floor the trail splits to ascend and descend the Coal Creek valley. The route that ascends the valley continues for approximately 9 miles. The descending route connects through Coal Creek Camp to Slaven’s Roadhouse along the western slope of the Coal Creek valley. The route is located in the United States Geological Survey 1:63,360 Charley River Quadrangle B-5. The total length of the trial network is approximately 30 miles.

Bielenberg Trail aka RST 230: This route begins just east of Circle Hot Springs and heads east across lowlands. After intersecting Birch Creek, the trail turns south for approximately 1.5 miles before crossing Birch Creek and continuing along the north slope of the Steese area mountains. The trail then follows Thanksgiving Creek north for approximately 2.5 mile before turning southwest again. The trail then crosses Webber Creek and traverses the north slope of Webber Mountain before descending into Woodchopper valley via Green Gulch. Once at Woodchopper the trail intersects Woodchopper-Coal Creek aka RST 226. The route is located in the United States Geological Survey 1:63, 360 Circle B-1, B-2 as well as Charley River Quadrangle B-5, and B-6. The total length of the trial is approximately 45 miles.

24 COMMENTS

  1. There is nothing like the power of a lawsuit by a state against an illegitimate federal power. Haaland is as fake as Joe Biden. Go get her good, Big Mike.

  2. It sure would be nice to finalize the land conveyance granted in the Statehood act, at last count there is somewhere around 35 million acres owed to the state from the feds. If those 35 million acres were a state unto itself that amount of acreage would make it the 27th largest state.

    • We need to just take it and the hell with the feds. Just like they are doing ram it down their throats. They can try to prevent it but this is a big state with lots of land to try to rule over.

  3. Probably affects tens and tens of people.
    ( private sector)
    Dozens upon dozens of feds.
    Lot of lawyers will make bank.
    The most important thing the Governor could do to positively affect couple hundred thousand constituents is CLEAN the tattered voter rolls.
    PLEASE !

  4. I have to wonder will that set a precedence for any other Rivers in the State of Alaska. If so, where? The concern I have is, development on our hunting resource areas on the rivers within the State of Alaska in different locations.

  5. Canadian medical coercion helped turn off Alaska’s economy. Abolition of freedom created economic catastrophy for Alaska’s businesses.

  6. I applaud the Guv for this action. It sure beats what Tony Knowles did back in the ’90s, when he bent over and gave all of the submerged lands in Glacier Bay to the Park Service.

    • SCOTUS ruled the Glacier Bay submerged lands were closed to development, Tony Knowles happened to be Governor at the time

      • Frank, read the State Constitution, a compact with the Federal Government. Scotus would have knocked down the Feds claim 9 to zip. Hickel knew this and Bruce BottleHo ( a democrat) was his AG and pursued the defense of States Rights, along comes Tony and Bruce the AG rolls. It’s called politics Frank. Stop it with the Bravo Sierra misinformation. Anyone but Tony would have fought the Feds Claim and prevailed. What was lost was Fishing and Subsistence rights for all Alaskans. Invaluable rights Frank.

        • Both you and Frank seem to be partially incorrect. The case, filed by the Knowles administration, did go to the US Supreme Court and a decision was reached in 2005, when Murkowski was Governor. The state owns up to three miles out in the Tongass National Forest and the Feds own outside that and all of Glacier Bay.
          ‘https://law.alaska.gov/press/releases/2005/060605-SubmergedLand.html

  7. Good news! Keep the lawsuits coming. How about a lawsuit over oil drilling, our fisheries being shut down, shutting down mines, and lawlessness Biden’s handlers commit. You’re on your own Mike, Democrats Murkowski and Peltola won’t help you and we haven’t seen or heard or seen Sullivan in a long time.

  8. Conflating navigable waters with RS2477 may work for MRAK readers better than SCOTUS. The 1976 law that limited RS2477 to existing used trails needs to be tested and resolved. Time will tell, the lawsuits will likely outlast Dunleavy’s next term.

  9. Perhaps Joe Vogler can rest in peace, now. “The Battle at Web(b)er Creek” video documents his efforts to get standing in court over the Bielenberg Trail as an R.S. 2477. He lost his faith in the Supreme Court because they refused to even hear the case. Alaska’s Future History was changed that day.

    • And without question, our current (illegitimate) federal government is tyrannical.
      Withholding consent and refusing to obey is all that it takes to bring down even the worst tyrant, although they and their shills (such as certain posters even in this forum) will furiously propagandize the populace with the defeatist and erroneous message that such is not the case.

  10. Murkowski was the tie breaking vote for Deb Halaand’s confirmation. I hope Dunleavy is smart enough to use the leftist’s terminology about equity and whatever other trope he needs to win this case.

  11. Should be interesting. I hope the state can get the land owed to it from the feds. It is high time this was settled. Why the state should have to keep suing for its rightful possessions just exposes the rampant corruption in DC. Go Big Mike!

  12. Article 1 section 8 of the U.S. Constitution is very clear concerning federal land holdings within a State. Read it yourselves and decide.

  13. I am typically very critical of Dunleavy but i applaud this action the federal government has no business interfearing in the economic affairs of the state there our resources and we have the right and responsibility to develop them for our own economy we cant rely on federal dollars to feed us here nor is that the alaskan way of life

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