The RS2477 Threat

Lands at Risk

Threats to
Private Property



Act Now!




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Under an extremely broad Alaska Supreme Court interpretation, the State of Alaska could claim that every section line in the state qualifies as an RS 2477 claim. These claims would crisscross the state like the grid of a waffle iron. The state may also use the disclaimer rule to assert as many as 2,000 additional highway routes and ownership of 22,000 rivers, lakes, and streams in Alaska, threatening millions of acres of Alaska’s natural parks and wildlife refuges. Alaska has identified 24 routes in Denali National Park and Preserve that it contends may be valid state rights-of-way under RS 2477. Most of these claims, which cover approximately 350 miles, are on lands suitable for wilderness designation. Some cut across grizzly bear and moose habitat, wolf pack territories, and highly sensitive caribou calving and wintering grounds.

Check out a map and description of some of Alaska’s RS 2477 claims.

Experts within the Interior Department have concluded that the impacts of RS 2477 claims to national parks and national wildlife refuges in Alaska would be devastating. Read a 1995 National Park Service memo and a 1995 National Wildlife Refuge memo.

The State of Alaska is threatening to file a lawsuit seeking ownership of a number of trails across public lands.  See the Attorney General's March 17, 2004, letter as well as a 1993 letter notifying the Interior Department of Alaska's intent to sue. 

2003 – 2007 Bulldozing in Alaska National Park Leads to Lawsuit

Read a June 19, 2003, Anchorage Daily News article about a mining-claim owner who bulldozed a 13 mile road across a National Park in Alaska, claiming he had the right to do so under RS 2477.

Read how anti-Park Service extremists have planned a jihad against the National Park Service because the service has expressed doubts about the validity of the Pilgrims' RS 2477 claims. Right-wing extremist Chuck Cushman, in this September 2003 email, urges pro-RS 2477 forces to "ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK" the Park Service, and to "ATTACK the personal actions and backgrounds of park employees and superintendents. . . .This is nasty and personal, but it works."

Read a copy of the complaint filed on Halloween 2003 by the bulldozers that would make it impossible for the Park Service to protect its lands.

A federal district court judge ruled that the Park Service can block use of the road to the Pilgrims' property pending completion of an environmental review. Read a press release discussing the ruling from several environmental groups.

Read the US District Court's November 18, 2003, ruling denying an unfettered right to bulldoze over the National Park.

Read the District Court's December 15, 2003, order refusing to overturn its prior ruling, in which the Court scolds the renegade bulldozers for their "unreasonable" behavior in refusing to give the Park Service a chance to minimize damage that could occur from bulldozing in a national park.

Gluttons for punishment, the renegade bulldozers continue to press their marginal legal claim in the Ninth Circuit. Read their press release.

2004 In an attempt at compromise, the Park Service offers to allow the Pilgrims to drive to town and back nine times a year so long as it's during the time when the ground and the streams are frozen. The Pilgrims and their lawyers are not satisfied. The Washington Post reported the story on March 12, 2004.

Alaska's governor has weighed in with a friend-of-the-court brief supporting renegade bulldozing through national parks. The Anchorage Daily News reported the story May 23, 2004.

2006 On February 9, 2006, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision of the district court and the position of the Park Service and said, "Consequently, even if the Hales [the bulldozing folk] have a valid right-of-way over the MGB road -- which we do not decide -- the existence of that right-of-way would not shield them from reasonable regulation by the NPS." Read the decision. The Ninth Circuit amended its opinion, but not in significantly, on August 25, 2006.

So this is the RS 2477 poster-boy?  Papa Hale, the chief bulldozer, gets 14 years in federal prison for raping one of his children.  Read a Dec. 27, 2006, Washington Post article.

2007:  On to the Supreme Court? Having lost in the Court of Appeals, the Hales have asked the Supreme Court to hear their case. The National Park Service and conservation groups are likely to oppose.

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources has published a useful web page where you can search through its collection of RS 2477 claims by name or by looking over various maps.


2003-2005: Alaska Governor Seeks Deal to Turn Trails into Highways

2005-2007:  Feds Roll Over for Alaska Claim to Help Gold Mine

2005:  Gov. Murkowski files RS 2477 claim on behalf of a gold mining company. Read the governor's release of April 18, 2005.

2007:  The United States signs a settlement agreement that all but gives away an RS 2477 right-of-way to assist with the gold mine.  Read the mining company’s self-congratulatory press release of January 29, 2007.


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