FAIRBANKS, Alaska — Alaska resident John Sturgeon has been fighting to get his hovercraft back on the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve.
In 2007, the National Park Service told him he no longer could operate his amphibious vehicle there.
Sturgeon’s dispute with the Park Service has included multiple stops in court, most of which did not go his way. But his attorneys petitioned for the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case for a second time, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Wednesday.
The attorneys said the recent lawsuit has broad ramifications for American federalism and basic rules of land and water ownership nationwide.
Sturgeon said the Park Service has fundamentally misread the 1980 law that created Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve and much of Alaska’s park land. He said that when the law created the new parks, Congress stated that federal regulations wouldn’t apply to state or private lands within national conservation area boundaries, including navigable rivers.
In 2016, the Supreme Court made a narrow ruling in Sturgeon’s favor and sent the case back to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled against Sturgeon again.
The 9th Circuit judges ruled that the federal government does have authority over rivers within the national parks under the doctrine of federal reserved water rights.
Sturgeon said that ruling is troublesome for state rights nationwide.
“If the 9th Circuit’s ruling stands, the United States may claim it has reserved water rights in any standing water, wetland, or groundwater throughout the West,” Sturgeon’s petition said. “This is an urgent issue of state sovereignty.”
Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com