Wrangell-St. Elias News Wrangell-St. Elias News-Gary Green

Hale v. Norton -- Pacific Legal Foundation Sues Park Service

Briefing paper    Maps:   General area    McCarthy Creek road (716KB file)  

DATE COMMENTS       = listen to audio!       Bad Links
12/11/07 Court refuses Hale land dispute - REFUSAL: But justices reject review of most cases submitted - By MARY PEMBERTON - The Associated Press - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear the case of the Hale family and its feud with the federal government over access to their land inside the country's largest national park.
5/07 In the Supreme Court of the United States PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI by JAMES S. BURLING Counsel of Record Pacific Legal Foundation
4/6/07 [1:55 min] Family Continues Fight to Access Land - By Dan Bross, KUAC, read by Lori Townsend, APRN - The Hale Family continues to push its access case against the National Park Service. The Hales, formerly known as the Pilgrim's, are challenging agency rules which restrict how they can get to their property inside Wrangle St. Elias National Park. Jim Burling says PLF hopes to have the US Supreme Court appeal done by May.
2/5/07   9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco withdraws earlier 2nd version of opinion and issues the 3rd version of their denial of Hales' motion asking reconsideration of 1/16/04 dismissal!!    SIDE BY SIDE COMPARISON OF THE THREE VERSIONS - JUDGE FLETCHER DOES THE LIMBO!
8/25/06   9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco withdraws earlier opinion and issues the 2nd version of their denial of Hales' motion asking reconsideration of 1/16/04 dismissal!    
2/14/06 Anchorage Daily News - Court won't let Pilgrim family drive to its land - 9TH CIRCUIT: Ruling requires owners to seek Park Service permit - By TOM KIZZIA - A federal appeals court has once again rejected the Pilgrim family's right to drive a bulldozer to its land inside a national park without going through a lengthy permit process and environmental review...Russell Brooks, a lawyer with the legal foundation that has been representing the family for free, said they will ask the 9th Circuit for an "en banc" hearing involving more justices. Brooks said he would argue that the Park Service erred when it sought to impose a lengthy environmental review on the road permit application, and the family should be able to challenge that error in court.  "Sometimes when you need a permit in Alaska, you need it now," he said.

At the heart of the case are two issues: what guarantees of access to private inholdings were provided under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980, and did the presence of an abandoned mining access road guarantee the Hales a right of way?  The 9th Circuit ruled the access rights under ANILCA remain subject to reasonable regulation. The court sidestepped the second issue, saying even if the Hales had a right of way, they would be subject to park rules.

"There's this interesting attitude among certain Alaskans that ANILCA allows access, period. It doesn't," said Jim Stratton, Alaska regional director for the National Parks Conservation Association.
2/14/06 Federal appeals court rebuffs Pilgrim family - The Associated Press - ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - A federal appeals court has sent the Pilgrim family back to the National Park Service for a permit to drive a bulldozer across park land to get to their property inside Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.  Russell Brooks, a lawyer with the Pacific Legal Foundation that has been representing the family for free, said they will ask the 9th Circuit for a hearing involving more justices.  Brooks said he would argue that the Park Service erred when it sought to impose a lengthy environmental review on the road permit application, and the family should be able to challenge that error in court.
2/9/06   9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco denies Pilgrims' motion asking reconsideration of 1/16/04 dismissal!    


Anchorage Daily News - Court hears wilderness family's land dispute - ROADBLOCKS: Pilgrim clan protests Park Service permit requirement - DAN JOLING, The Associated Press - An attorney for the Pilgrim family told federal appeals judges that the National Park Service has no right to conduct a formal environmental review or create other roadblocks before granting access to their land within a national park.  Russell Brooks of the Pacific Legal Foundation...said the Pilgrims were denied fair and adequate access to their property as promised in the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. The Park Service could take steps to ensure park assets were not harmed, he said. Extending that to a review under the National Environmental Policy Act, which took more than nine weeks, was a violation of the act's mandate, he said.  A temporary, one-year access permit issued in March 2004 authorized the Pilgrims to use their bulldozer and trailer over the road when the ground was frozen. That permit was issued late in the winter, Brooks said, and the road was too dangerous to use because of glaciation on mountainside sections. Likewise, the road was too dangerous to use after freeze-up last October, Brooks said. The Park Service made unreasonable demands while nominally allowing access, Brooks said after the court hearing.  "They can come off looking like the good guys," he said of issuing the permit. "It's useless."


KTUU (Anchorage Channel 2) - Pilgrim family's case heard before Court of Appeals - Jason Moore - “The Park Service must provide adequate and feasible access. Now any regulation that violates or that prevents the Hales adequate and feasible access is, per se, unreasonable regulation,” said Russ Brooks of the Pacific Legal Foundation...The Park Service disagrees, saying the review is necessary to consider the environmental impact to public land...“there was a permit tendered about 12 weeks after we had a full package of information...” said John Quinley of the National Park Service...The Park Service offered the Pilgrims a permit for nine bulldozer trips per year in the winter when the ground is frozen. But the Pilgrims never accepted the permit. Land rights advocates claim bulldozer access along the old 14-mile road in the winter isn't safe.  "I think the Park Service permit that they gave the Pilgrim family, the Hales, is basically a cheap publicity stunt because they gave them a permit knowing that it was unsafe and unusable," said Ray Kreig of the Alaska Land Rights Coalition.


Appeals court hears arguments in Pilgrim case - Lori Townsend - Alaska Public Radio Network - A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments on Tuesday in Anchorage on the Hale family's dispute with the National Park Service over access in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Robert Hale, known as Papa Pilgrim, and his family own more than 400 acres in the park near McCarthy and wanted to use a bulldozer to bring in supplies and building materials over an old RS2477 access road.
  7/12/05 Hearing audio [42:19 min], 9th Circuit Court of Appeals [case 03-36032, Hale v. Norton] Tuesday, July 12, 2005 9:00 a.m. Courtroom 2, Second Floor, Anchorage federal building.
3/10/04   9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco grants Pilgrims' motion asking reconsideration of 1/16/04 dismissal!       PLF Press release   
3/10/04 NPS EA:  Finding of No Significant Impacts (FONSI) -- Park Service tells Pilgrims to "Pound Sand!"  Must use winter travel only!   APPLICATION DENIED.  NPS Press Release
2/23/04 ALRA Comment Questionnaire - McCarthy - Green Butte Road Environmental Assessment - Wrangell-St. Elias National Park - 
2/23/04 JP Tangen, Attorney for Applicants - Comments on Environmental Assessment
McCarthy Creek Access
- "...neither alternative to the application is reasonable, prudent or within the scope of the law."
2/23/04 Don Perrin - Alaska DNR [Comments on Pilgrim EA] - It is unlikely that the McCarthy Creek population [of Dolly Varden] is unique. 
1/23/04 NPS - EA: McCarthy Creek Temporary Access Issued (be patient, this is a large 5.2MB PDF file).  NPS news release - When reviewing this massive 126 page NPS Environmental Assessment for use of this existing 14 mile 80 year old road contrast it to the DEIS for construction from scratch of the $12 billion National Missile Defense System.  It was only 1209 pages!! THIS IS JUST ONE MORE EXAMPLE OF GROSS NPS REGULATORY OVERKILL. Furthermore a DEIS is a much more detailed and comprehensive review then an EA. More info? See:  which compares another NPS DEIS in Denali National Park to the real world.
1/16/04 9th Circuit dismisses appeal.  

Pacific Legal Foundation files Motion for Reconsideration of Judge Beistline's denial of emergency access for Pilgrim Family.   Supporting Memorandum  Ex A (DNR-OHM&P)   MacKinnon Declaration  
Kreig Declaration
  Ex A - Road Chronology   Photos Ex A   Ex B   

ALRA Press Release - Judge Beistline Says No To Pilgrims Emergency Access     FULL BEISTLINE DECISION  
11/18/03 Alaska DNR says McCarthy Creek is not an Anadromous fish stream:  Letter 

Hale v. Norton hearing in Anchorage before Judge Beistline requesting Temporary Restraining Order against NPS to stop blockade of Pilgrim home access.            Kreig Declaration #2  Photos  
11/12/03 Chief Ranger Hunter Sharp's Declaration   
11/3/03 Pacific Legal Foundation Sues Park Service - Hale v. Norton filed in Anchorage federal district court  
10/2/03 NPS letter - Superintendent Candelaria - Wait 9 weeks - ALRA comment: Then they will say no!  By then, they hope, you will be starved out unless you get help. 
10/1/03 NPS letter - Acting Regional Director Blaszak - Emergency denied
9/14/03 Pilgrim letter (complete handwritten) to Superintendent Candelaria.  
Pilgrim letter (partial: answers typed and interleaved into 9/8/03 Candelaria letter).  
9/8/03 NPS letter - Superintendent Candelaria to Tangen (attorney for Pilgrims)
9/2/03 SF 299 submitted by JP Tangen on behalf of the Pilgrims:  Transmittal   SF 299  Map
??? Bockmon subsequently offered a form SF 299 and offer of help to Mr. Tangen in completing the application.
7/8/03 Based on the comments made by Bockmon and Arnberger at the 6/13/03 meeting Pilgrims emailed the original access permit request to Superintendent Gary Candelaria asking for emergency access.  Two months elapsed before any substantive answer to this plea was received from the NPS.
6/13/03 Robert Hale Pilgrim, David Pilgrim and their attorney J.P. Tangen, met with NPS Regional Director Robert Arnberger in his Anchorage office about access to their property in the McCarthy Creek valley. At that meeting Mr. Chris Bockmon stated that all ANILCA permits ever done by NPS went through him and in response to Mr. Tangen's questions as to what form the Pilgrims should use to request access Bockmon and Arnberger said there is no particular form and to just send something in asking for access.

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