Sturgeon case now tangled in state’s rights and Native rights

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WALKER WADES IN TO CHANGE ANILCA
The Walker Administration has joined the Alaska Federation of Natives to advocate for amendments to historic Alaska land claims laws that would weaken state sovereignty, according to the Alaska Outdoor Council, which is opposing the move.
On Monday, AOC Executive Director Rod Arno urged Sen. Lisa Murkowski to reject that effort.
In a letter to Alaska’s senior senator, the outdoors group said that Alaska Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth is seeking to usurp the State of Alaska’s authority over fish and game management and allocation.
Arno advised Murkowski not to insert the governor’s requested amendments into the omnibus spending bill now being considered by the Senate.
The proposed changes by the Walker Administration through his attorney are facing a Friday deadline.
The case is complex, and a recent Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision makes it more so. To resolve it, Murkowski has been asked by Lindemuth, as well as AFN President Julie Kitka, and the attorney for hunter John Sturgeon, to amend the Alaska National Interest Land Conservation Act, known as ANILCA.
Sturgeon and the Alaska Outdoor Council have been on the same side of Sturgeon’s case for years, since he was stopped by the National Park Service from navigating the Nation’s River to reach his hunting spot.
Sturgeon has been fighting since then against federal overreach in a case that has gone to the U.S. Supreme Court, only to be partially bounced back to the Ninth Circuit Court, where he was again denied the right to use an hovercraft on the river system. The argument is over whether the state or federal government controls activity on the water inside the National Park Service’s boundaries.
According to the Outdoor Council, the proposed amendment (attached) if passed into statute would:
  • Satisfy Sturgeon’s claim against the federal government by clarifying state management of navigable waters regardless of whether those waters were inside the National Park Service exterior boundary.
  •  Allow Alaska native regional and village corporations more control over development on 18 million acres of lands acquired in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement (ANCSA) that are within the boundaries of federal Conservation System Units (CSU) created by ANILCA.
  • Give the State of Alaska nothing, but strip away state management and allocation of fish and game on around 63 percent of the state, not counting all waters. By proposing that subsistence management regulations created by the U.S. Departments of the Interior and Agriculture be written into federal statute, the State of Alaska capitulates to federal management on over half of the state’s land and the majority of it waters. The FSB allocates fish and game only to rural residents of Alaska, not to all of Alaska’s population as our state constitution requires.
“Getting standing to challenge these regulations in federal court has been exceedingly difficult,” Arno said. “Challenging statute law adopted by the U.S. Congress, confirming that the Dept. of the Interior will remain the managers of fish and game, would be virtually impossible. Seems an issue of such great importance should have some public debate prior to being submitted as a rider on an appropriations bill.”
Evidently that is not how the governor sees it, because in October he said he would do everything in his power to protect state’s rights.
WORDING OF THE PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO ANILCA

The cause for AOC’s concern comes from a Feb. 26 letter that the governor sent to Murkowski, asking for changes in the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, ANILCA.

The attached wording that would change ANILCA is copied below:

ANILCA 103(c)

Existing Law

(c) Only those lands within the boundaries of any conservation system unit which are public lands (as such term is defined in this Act) shall be deemed to be included as a portion of such unit. No lands which, before, on, or after the date of enactment of this Act, are conveyed to the State, to any Native Corporation, or to any private party shall be subject to the regulations applicable solely to public lands within such units. If the State, a Native Corporation, or other owner desires to convey any such lands, the Secretary may acquire such lands in accordance with applicable law (including this Act), and any such lands shall become part of the unit, and be administered accordingly.

Amendment

(c) Only those lands within the boundaries of any conservation system unit which are public lands (as such term is defined in this Act) shall be deemed to be included as a portion of such unit.  Except as provided in this section, the Secretary’s regulations adopted to administer public lands shall not apply to lands, including submerged lands, owned by the State, any Native Corporation, or any private party, or to navigable waters flowing over such lands.  No lands which, before, on, or after the date of enactment of this Act, are conveyed to the State, to any Native Corporation, or to any private party shall be subject to the regulations applicable solely to public lands within such units.  If the State, a Native Corporation, or other owner desires to convey any such lands, the Secretary may acquire such lands in accordance with applicable law (including this Act), and any such lands shall become part of the unit, and be administered accordingly.  Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to limit the Secretary’s authority under Title VIII to protect and provide the opportunity for continued subsistence uses, and to implement the subsistence priority, in the waters identified in 50 C.F.R. § 100.3 (2018), which authority is hereby reconfirmed.

[Read another report on this at CraigMedred.news]

1 COMMENT

  1. I have learned via sources i believe credible that Sen. Murkowski did not include this offensive amendment in the appropriations bill…in spite of the requests to do so. Now we must get about the business of donating to support Sturgeon’s massive and growing legal bills and finding other entities that might help.

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