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Sturgeon v. National Park Service

ELR Citation: 47 ELR 20119
Nos. 13-36165, (9th Cir., 10/02/2017)

The Ninth Circuit held that the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act did not limit the Park Service from applying the hovercraft ban on the Nation River in the Yukon-Charley preserve. A plaintiff sought to use his hovercraft in a national preserve to reach moose hunting grounds. While state law did not prohibit the activity, Park Service regulations prohibit the use of hovercraft within “[w]aters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States located within the boundaries of the National Park System." The plaintiff contended that the Nation River belongs to Alaska and that the Park Service has no authority to regulate it. The court disagreed, finding that the United States had an implied reservation of water rights, rendering the river public lands. Further, the hovercraft ban serves the purpose of keeping waterways in their undeveloped natural condition to protect wildlife habitat.