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Moose hunter files lawsuit over ban of his hovercraft on national preserve river

Posted: October 18, 2011 - 11:01pm

FAIRBANKS — A moose hunter has filed a lawsuit over the use of his hovercraft in a national preserve.

John Sturgeon of Anchorage filed a lawsuit in District Court in Anchorage over access in his hovercraft to the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Tuesday that Sturgeon maintains that lands submerged on the Yukon and Nation rivers — the two rivers he runs his hovercraft on — are state-owned navigable waterways.

He says the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980 denies the Park Service authority to enforce its regulations on those rivers. But, he says, in 1996 the Park Service changed its regulations unlawfully.

He was kicked off the Nation River in 2007 by rangers, who said the use of the hovercraft was illegal. He’s seeking a declaratory judgment that the agency is in violation of the act and he be allowed to use his hovercraft.

National Park Service spokeswoman Morgan Warthin said they can’t respond to pending litigation but will do so in court.

“We continue to focus on rebuilding our relationships with communities and users of national parklands in Alaska, fulfilling our responsibilities under the NPS authorities as well as ANILCA,” Warthin said in an email Tuesday to The Associated Press.

Alaska Attorney General John Burns said the state is currently drafting litigation to intervene in the case. He told the News-Miner they plan to “very aggressively defend our states’ rights.”

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