The state Legislative Council was denied its request to appeal the Katie John case before the U.S. Supreme Court, a legislative leader said.
The appeal was filed too late, said council chairman Joe Green, an Anchorage Republican. He said it is not immediately clear whether the council can appeal the ruling by the clerk of the court.
Democratic leaders, who favored dropping the case, were quick to say the court's decision is final.
"At this point, all avenues to put before the U.S. Supreme Court the Katie John case have been closed," said Attorney General Bruce Botelho.
The Legislative Council, which acts on behalf of the GOP-controlled Legislature, filed its appeal request on Oct. 4 after Knowles decided not to appeal the 9th Circuit Court ruling in the Katie John case.
The court had granted Knowles a 60-day extension to appeal. But that extension from the original Aug. 6 deadline did not apply to other parties to the case, attorneys said.
The case is named for an Athabascan elder who successfully sued to put a subsistence fish wheel on the Copper River. It extended federal oversight of subsistence to most of Alaska's waters and followed a federal takeover of subsistence hunting on its own land in 1990.
The 1980 federal Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act requires a rural preference as a means of protecting subsistence rights for Alaska Natives who surrendered aboriginal land claims.
Knowles dropped the appeal on Aug. 27, citing a need to heal the divide between urban and rural residents in the state.
The move angered GOP leaders, who last year approved a $400,000 contract to hire attorney Paul Lenzini to represent them in the appeal. Lenzini has been paid $207,000 by the Legislative Council, state records show.