ALASKA LAND RIGHTS COALITION
"Working for common-sense public lands
Fairbanks – A petition addressed to Secretary of the Interior Gail Norton, will be presented to her representative in Alaska, Cam Toohey at the annual meeting of the Alaska Outdoor Council at Pike's Waterfront Lodge Friday afternoon.
The petition "PROTESTS the outrageous criminalizing by the National Park Service and the federal courts of a public spirited man, Doug Frederick, of Slana, who was undertaking a volunteer trail improvement demonstration."
"The National Park Service claims to be a good neighbor but its actions abusing this family speak louder than words.
"The $500 fine imposed by Magistrate John Roberts is not against Doug and Judy Frederick. IT IS AGAINST THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY and it is obviously intended to send a message that if anyone tries to protect the public's ANILCA rights, they will be punished by the system.
"THE COMMUNITY SENDS THIS MESSAGE BACK TO THE NPS:
"What has been done is unjust, oppressive, not correct, not credible, and not honest. We have collected all of the fine money here tendered among us. We resolve that the Fredericks will pay none of it."
The petition contains over 140 names including former legislator Richard Shultz of Tok and numerous business and public figures from the Interior, Copper Basin and South Central Alaska.
Paula Easley, President of the Alaska Land Rights Coalition, commented that this action stems from only one example of a sharply rising number of access and other problems caused by the National Park Service and certain other federal land managers.
In response, the Coalition was formed last fall to work for common-sense public lands management and justice for Alaska landowners and land users.
PARK SERVICE ACTIONS SHUT OUT THE PUBLIC, WASTE TAX FUNDS AND DAMAGE THE ENVIRONMENT
Recent examples at the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park (WRST) include:
NPS STRANDS THE PUBLIC: WRST shut down its newly built McCarthy Visitor Center in 2003, claiming it lacked $27,000 to operate the facility for the 13-week summer season. After driving for three hours on a gravel road, tourists seeking information were greeted with locked doors and boarded up windows. SEE PHOTO: http://www.mccarthy-kennicott.com/JA2003
NPS WASTED TAX FUNDS: Despite alleged budget woes, WRST managed to waste $270,000 to bring in a para-military SET Team as part of its dispute with the Pilgrim family over use of a 100-year-old mining road which crosses park property. That's TEN TIMES what it would have cost to keep the McCarthy Visitor Center open.
Funds were used for leasing helicopters (approximately $800 an hour) and other equipment, relocating personnel from across the United States - and other costs - over a three-week period last summer, with additional aerial, legal and ground harassment since. SEE PHOTO: http://www.landrights.org/ak/wrst/rangers.htm
NPS DESTROYED THE ENVIRONMENT: NPS ordered a clear-cut swath through natural undisturbed timber two miles long and ten feet wide as part of an unnecessary boundary survey of the Pilgrim property. Stakes with orange ribbons and other conventional methods could have been used to minimize disturbance to the environment, but NPS wanted to "show who the boss is around here," according to an eyewitness.
This prominent scar on the landscape damages the park viewshed for miles around and is far, far worse than the slight impact the Pilgrim family may have done by using an existing mining road to haul supplies to their property. SEE PHOTO: http://www.landrights.org/ak/wrst/slash/NPSslash1a.htm
CLAIMS "NO MONEY TO FIX TRAILS"! THEN GIVES $$ TO BLM.
Doug Frederick and others volunteered to provide labor and partner with the NPS to provide protections to trails in the area that were in need of repair. Chief ranger Hunter Sharp told a public meeting there was no money available for that. Yet the park had applied for, and received, a $30,000 grant from the NPS Scenic Rivers and Trails program to repair trails—which they promptly turned over to BLM for use on the Myers Lake trail—not even in the park!
OF ABUSES TURNED INTO FEDS
Residents of the Wrangells, a McCarthy group also formed in response to NPS abuses of guarantees made to Alaskans in ANILCA, held three public meetings around the Wrangell St. Elias National Park. Examples compiled include: right-of-way closures and restrictions, new permit fee demands of inholders, aggressive land acquisition, denial of land access for lakefront properties, intimidation of residents and hunters, selective enforcement, airplane harassment, crippling impact study requirements, litigation through entrapment, and other problems. This documentation is being submitted to federal officials.
More information, contact: Paula Easley, (907) 274-6800, or Ray Kreig, (907) 276-2025, 243-8951.