From: alra@governance.net
Subject: Park Service Attacks Pilgrim Family

Land Rights Network
American Land Rights Rights Association
PO Box 400 – Battle Ground, WA 98604
Phone: 360-687-3087 – Fax: 360-687-2973 – E-mail: alra@landrights.org
Web Address: http://www.landrights.org
Legislative Office: 507 Seward Square SE – Washington, DC 20003
Phone: 202-210-2357 – Fax: 202-543-7126 – E-mail: landrightsnet@aol.com

Park Service Attacks Pilgrim Family

The Park Service is carrying out a culture war on rural America.

Go to www.landrights.org/ak for the latest pictures of Park Service rangers dressed like they were going to parachute into Iraq including automatic weapons and shotguns.

Is this the Park Service good neighbor program?


The most outrageous example pending is that of the Pilgrim Family in Alaska.  You may remember several e-mails in May and June regarding this family whose homestead property is 13 miles outside of McCarthy in the Wrangle-St Elias National Park and Preserve.

This is a father, mother and 15 terrific kids trying to live a subsistence lifestyle on 400 acres they purchased after the Park Service offered the previous owner a fraction of its worth.

In May and June you received information about the Pilgrim Family in Alaska now being targeted by the Park Service.  The agency is waging a war of misinformation, distortion, and worse.  

The agency is trying to starve and freeze them out, cut them off from supplies and generally create a situation where the Pilgrim family would be forced to sell out.  Their home burned last spring.  They are now living in temporary quarters.

The Pilgrims are in a pressured situation because it is only possible for the Pilgrims to transport supplies up to their homestead during October and November.   They requested a permit effective October 1st.  At this point, they have every indication that they will get nothing.

The family bought the property on time with assurances from the previous owner as to where the property lines were.   They relied on the word of the seller and old surveys.   It now appears that a portion of their house and other outbuildings are on Park Service property.   The building they are using as a house is on skids and can be moved with a bulldozer.   

The Park Service flew in the previous owner who owned the bulldozer, a Mr Wigger, to lock down the bulldozer.  That means the Pilgrims cannot move the house.  Why is the Park Service flying around the former owner to harass the Pilgrims?  It might be the extra $100,000 it appears they have offered him if he can kill the deal with the Pilgrims.

The trouble started with the Park Service when the Pilgrims used the bulldozer to take supplies up to their homestead on an incredibly difficult 100 year old mining and ranch  road.  It is clearly a right of way and even has two substantial tunnels.  

The state of Alaska has designated it an RS 2477 road but the Park Service does not acknowledge that.  It has been used for many years by residents of McCarthy and elsewhere in the Wrangles up until the Park Service arbitrarily closed the road this spring.  The Pilgrims did not realize that the Park Service would demand a permit for a road that they and many others had used for some time.

The bulldozer caused minor damage with its tracks on this old road.  The Park Service calls mowing down some brush and small trees that had grown up in the road as damage.  In a completely unnecessary act, the Park Service mowed down a mile long strip around the Pilgrim land to do their survey.  

The Pilgrims also got crosswise with park management when they would not talk to them.   They may well have made a mistake by not requesting a permit.  

But the Park Service has since carried out a mission of vengence that has included many helicopter flights with swat team members, a survey of their land, dozens of surveyors, environmental scientists and researchers to try to turn up every issue they can, whether or not it was caused by 100 years of use or by the Pilgrims.  

They also sent heavily armed swat team members to guard these investigators from this peaceful family and their 15 kids.  They have hidden part of the cost by taking personnel out of other parks.  One was a marine researcher from Florida.  I wonder how much experience she has in the frozen north.  

The cost for this vendetta is approaching half a million dollars.   You have to wonder about Park Service priorities when the agency closed the visitor information station at McCarthy this year after they said they were short of money.  

American Land Rights and others thought that we had this issue on the way to a resolution in early Summer.  We got the Pilgrims to sit down with the Regional Director for the Park Service, Robert Arneberger.  Unfortunately, his response was basically to urge them to drop dead. 

ALRA has raised the issue with other officials in the Bush Administration and there seems to be a glimmer of hope that the Administration may be finally taking an interest in resolving the issue.  But they likely will do nothing unless the grassroots rises up to protest this kind of behavior.

The Park Service has had enough time to resolve it.  In fairness, the delay has been partially their fault, and that of the Pilgrim family.  But it is now clear that the Park Service has never had any intention of solving the problem.  They want to starve the Pilgrims out.

The question is, is the Bush Administration willing to honor their commitment to the red areas on the political map or are they going to allow one of their agencies to crush a freedom loving rural family.

If the Administration allows the Park Service to simply run over people with all kinds of inappropriate behavior, then no one who is an inholder or who lives or has property in a rural or Federal area is safe.  The Federal agencies will just run amok.

Look at www.landrights.org/ak for the latest information and happenings in the battle to save the Pilgrims from the Park Service.   And a lot is happening.   Shortly you’ll see articles in two major newspapers.  Heaven only knows what “stories” the Park Service made up for them.

When you go to www.landrights.org/ak you’ll see a chronological list of events leading up to the present time.  Read the Pilgrims personal appeal to the Superintendent.  They do not have computer access at the homestead but we have put their handwritten appeal in a pdf file for you.

But this will give you a head start.  All who believe the Federal government and the Park Service are often not good neighbors will find lots of documentation in the reports information on landrights.org

There are other people and groups who are working on this issue. Here are some key contacts.


Chuck Cushman, American Land Rights, PO Box 400, Battle Ground, WA 98604
      (360) 687-3087 – ccushman@landrights.org

Ray Kreig, American Land Rights, Anchorage, Alaska (907) 276-2025, ray@kreig.com

JP Tangen, Pilgrim lawyer, (907) 222-3985, jpt@jptangen.com, www.jptangen.com

Steve Borell, Alaska Miners Assoc. (907) 563-9229, ama@alaska miners.org

Rick Kenyon, Wrangle-St Elias News, (907) 554-4454, wsen@starband,net, www.mccarthy-kennicott.com

Julie Kay Smithson, London, Ohio  jsmit10695@aol.com

You may have thought the Pilgrim family was saved.  You may have thought the Park Service would be reasonable.  American Land Rights has worked with local people in Alaska to try to save the Pilgrim family and work out a solution with the Park Service.

No such luck.

The Park Service has waged a War in the Wrangle-St Elias National Park and Preserve against not only the Pilgrim family, but other inholders as well.  Others are being forced into long trips for court appearances just to harass them.  In Alaska it sometimes takes a day or two to get to where a court is.

American Land Rights held up during the Summer hoping the Bush Administration would step up to the plate and save this family from the Park Service.

It may still happen, but it has not happened yet.

The Park Service is throwing every rule in the book at them.   If they put this kind of vendetta on every rural landowner in Alaska, they could quickly depopulate the state.

This is a controversy where well meaning people could get in a room for two hours and come up with a reasonable solution.  No, No.  Not the Park Service.  They have no intention of being reasonable.

The Park Service is using their propaganda machine to try to destroy the Pilgrims in the newspapers and every other way.   They are reprinting statements they know to be untrue in a deliberate attempt to downgrade the reputation of the Pilgrims.

The Pilgrims have not handled their relationship with the Park Service well.  They thought that if they kept to themselves, everything would be all right.  What appears to be happening is that the Pilgrim Family is afraid of bureaucracy and does not do well in the highly structured world that most Park Rangers come from.

They seem to be being crucified because they are different.  Yet so many people in rural America could be criticized the same way.  For many of the same things.

It is our view that Urban authority does not like diversity and people like the Pilgrims who are free spirits.  The Park Service, which is the curator of our history and culture in America, seems only kindly disposed to THEIR kind of APPROVED history and culture.

They seem bound and determined to destroy people like the Pilgrims. 

It is not only the Wrangle-St Elias.  It is the Big Cypress in Florida.  Death Valley in California.  The New River in West Virginia.  The Buffalo River in Arkansas.  Blue Ridge Parkway in several states.  

It is not just the Park Service.  The Forest Service has also carried out a culture war in places well documented like Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area in Southwest Virginia.

But the Park Service is the leader.

Most of the above examples have historical reports done about them that were published at www.landrights.org.   Look for the socio-cultural assessments for these areas.

Some people are trying to understand why the Pilgrims have not communicated well with the Park Service.

We try to compare it to two people who buy new computers.  One is very computer literate and easily reads the books and manuals.  To the other, the computer is a huge mystery.  Daily difficulties show up which make the computer difficult to operate.  

It appears the Pilgrim family is like the second computer purchaser.  They just don’t deal with bureaucracy very well.

But that is no reason for the Park Service to destroy them.

Every once in a while an issue comes along that the grassroots in America must take a stand on.  This is certainly one of those cases.  

Saving the Pilgrims is likely if you act quickly to put pressure on the Park Service.  The current issue is about the Pilgrims.  But tomorrow it may be you, me or our neighbors.  The Parks Service simply cannot be allowed to run roughshod over families and communities.


-----1.  Network this e-mail message as widely as possible.  Forward it.  Talk about it.  Go to www.landrights.org/ak and read about it.  Send it to your Congressman and Senators.

-----2.  Contact Senator Ted Stevens – (202) 224-3004 – (907) 271-5915 -- FAX  (202)224-2354 – www.stevens.senate.gov    

-----3.  Contact Senator Lisa Murkowski – 202) 224-6665 – (907) 271-3735 – FAX (202) 224-5301 – www.murkowski.senate.gov

-----4.  Contact Representative Don Young – (202) 225-5765 – (907) 271-5978 – FAX (202) 225-0425 – don.young@mail.house.gov

-----5.  Contact your own Senators and Congressman to urge that Park Service funds for  military operations like those in Alaska be stopped NOW (see pictures on www.landrights.org/ak).  Urge them to demand hearings into this kind of behavior by the Park Service.  Urge them to shut off the money for the Park Service until they begin to behave in a people friendly manner.  The Park Service is out of control.


-----You can call every Representative or Senator at (202) 224-3121.   A TEMPORARY TOLL FREE  NUMBER  is (800) 648-3516.


Please forward this message as widely as possible.  Thank you.

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