Under an extremely broad Alaska Supreme Court
interpretation, the State of Alaska could claim that every section
line in the state qualifies as an RS 2477 claim. These claims would
crisscross the state like the grid of a waffle iron. The state may
also use the disclaimer rule to assert as many as 2,000 additional
highway routes and ownership of 22,000 rivers, lakes, and streams in
Alaska, threatening millions of acres of Alaska’s natural parks and
wildlife refuges. Alaska has identified 24 routes in Denali National
Park and Preserve that it contends may be valid state rights-of-way
under RS 2477. Most of these claims, which cover approximately 350
miles, are on lands suitable for wilderness designation. Some cut
across grizzly bear and moose habitat, wolf pack territories, and
highly sensitive caribou calving and wintering grounds.
Check out a
map and description of some of Alaska’s RS 2477 claims.
Experts within the Interior Department have concluded
that the impacts of RS 2477 claims to national parks and national
wildlife refuges in Alaska would be devastating. Read a
1995 National Park
Service memo and a 1995 National
Wildlife Refuge memo.
The State of
Alaska is threatening to file a lawsuit seeking ownership of a number
of trails across public lands.
See the Attorney General's March 17, 2004, letter as well as a 1993
letter notifying the Interior Department of Alaska's intent to sue.
2003 – 2007
Bulldozing in Alaska National Park Leads to Lawsuit
Read a June 19, 2003, Anchorage Daily News article about
mining-claim owner who bulldozed a 13 mile road across a National Park
in Alaska, claiming he had the right to do so under RS 2477.
Read how anti-Park
Service extremists have planned a jihad against the National Park
Service because the service has expressed doubts about the
validity of the Pilgrims' RS 2477 claims. Right-wing extremist Chuck
Cushman, in this September 2003 email, urges pro-RS 2477 forces to
"ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK" the Park Service, and to "ATTACK the personal
actions and backgrounds of park employees and superintendents. . .
.This is nasty and personal, but it works."
Read a copy of the complaint filed on Halloween 2003 by the
bulldozers that would make it impossible for the Park Service to
protect its lands.
A federal district court judge ruled that the Park Service can block
use of the road to the Pilgrims' property pending completion of an
press release discussing the ruling from several environmental groups.
Read the US District Court's November 18, 2003, ruling denying an
unfettered right to bulldoze over the National Park.
Read the District Court's
December 15, 2003, order refusing to overturn its prior ruling, in
which the Court scolds the renegade bulldozers for their
"unreasonable" behavior in refusing to give the Park Service a chance
to minimize damage that could occur from bulldozing in a national
Gluttons for punishment, the renegade bulldozers continue to press
their marginal legal claim in the Ninth Circuit.
their press release.
In an attempt at compromise, the Park Service offers to allow the
Pilgrims to drive to town and back nine times a year so long as it's
during the time when the ground and the streams are frozen. The
Pilgrims and their lawyers are not satisfied. The Washington Post
reported the story on March 12, 2004.
Alaska's governor has weighed in with a friend-of-the-court brief
supporting renegade bulldozing through national parks. The Anchorage
Daily News reported the story May 23, 2004.
On February 9, 2006, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the
decision of the district court and the position of the Park Service
"Consequently, even if the Hales [the
bulldozing folk] have a valid right-of-way over the MGB road -- which
we do not decide -- the existence of that right-of-way would not
shield them from reasonable regulation by the NPS."
Read the decision.
The Ninth Circuit
amended its opinion, but not in significantly, on August 25, 2006.
is the RS 2477 poster-boy? Papa Hale, the chief bulldozer, gets 14
years in federal prison for raping one of his children. Read a
Dec. 27, 2006,
Washington Post article.
On to the Supreme Court? Having lost in the Court of Appeals, the
Hales have asked the Supreme Court to hear their case. The National
Park Service and conservation groups are likely to oppose.