News from the Alaska State Legislature, the Office of Senator Coghill
For Immediate Release: March 22, 2016

Legislative Majority Responds to Sturgeon Win

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U.S. Supreme Court Sides with Local Moose Hunter in Land Management Case

JUNEAU – Today, members of the Legislature praised the U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous decision to overturn a Ninth Circuit ruling that allowed a National Park Service hovercraft ban on an Alaskan river. The court’s decision recognized that Alaska is meant to be treated differently from lands in the rest of the country, per the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA). The court case, Sturgeon v. Frost, is a positive step toward state control of land management in Alaska.

In response to the decision, legislators released the following statements:

“Congratulations to John Sturgeon for his courage and fortitude to take this case to the highest court in our nation,” said Sen. Cathy Giessel (R-Anchorage), Chair of the Senate Resources Committee. “The news today proves that efforts such as his are not academic exercises; they are vital to the everyday freedoms that Americans, and Alaskans, are entitled to have. I must also thank Mathew Findley, John’s Anchorage-based attorney, who argued a unanimous decision from such a diverse Supreme Court. Bravo.”

“Congratulations to John Sturgeon,” said Rep. Dave Talerico (R-Healy), Co-Chair of the House Resources Committee for state land issues. “The odds are long when you take on the federal government, and he had to wait the better part of a decade for some semblance of justice. How quintessentially Alaskan for this case to involve a man simply trying to get out in rural Alaska and hunt a moose, only to be intercepted by heavy-handed federal agents. Though I wish the Court had decided on all the matters in the case, I’m glad John Sturgeon heightened awareness to this tremendous issue amongst the Western States.” 

“Upon initial review, I’m cautiously pleased that there was an acknowledgment that Alaska lands are treated differently,” said Sen. John Coghill (R-North Pole), Vice-Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “The U.S. Supreme Court held that the Ninth Circuit’s interpretation of ANILCA was inconsistent with both the text and the context of the law.”

“This is a good day for Alaska,” said Rep. Craig Johnson, (R-Anchorage), Chair of the House Rules Committee and member of the House Resources Committee. “Federal overreach threatens Alaska’s ability to control our own destiny and this decision is a big first step in the right direction. We have to be vigilant in fighting for our rights. Having the Supreme Court side with us on even this narrow issue is a big deal.”

For more information, please contact Michaela Goertzen in the Senate Majority press office at (907) 465-3803 or Will Vandergriff in the House Majority press office at (907) 465-5284. 

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