Wrangell-St. Elias News

NPS Persecution of Local Landowners
 Alaska Land Rights Coalition  PRESS PHOTO>> 


= listen to sentencing hearing (34 min).   


Magistrate Roberts asks some of the right questions: "What does the NPS intend to do with the 'bridges'?" "I guess NPS doesn't want the bridges there?" "What was the purpose of the meeting?" [NPS said the answer was to hold the required ANILCA hearing to close the trails!]


Judge: What I was looking to hear—was whether there was any more planned, eh, discussions, or...discussions I guess the park service doesn't want the trail there?

6:11 NPS—That is correct. While the area in which these particular bridges were built is not specifically closed, there were some other trail construction in the area which, ah, or trails caused by people using it in that area has been closed as a trail by the park service, and that was actually the process that was being undertaken by the park service in (2002?) When they had the meeting in Slana with the large group of folks.

Judge: The meeting, according to the evidence, was sort of a town meeting to brainstorm what to do about the access. What was the purpose of the meeting if the park service very simply doesn't want a trail. You could say "we just don't want a trail there, period."

6:59 - NPS - The purpose of the meeting has been characterized as a town meeting, brainstorming, but really the purpose of the meeting was the park service was complying with departmental regulations that if it is closing an area to access then it must provide notice and meet with the local people in the vicinity to, ah, explain what the goals of the, ah, the purpose of the closure and to discuss what alternatives, if there are any, but it's not a matter of getting permission, it's more a matter of it's an informational thing, and to see if there are other ways to deal with whatever the particular situation was. Here, the goal of the meeting was essentially to provide people notice and to discuss the need to close that trail. Although, again, I want to emphasize to the court that the three bridges that are in question are not on the segment of the trail that had been noticed closed.

8:18 - Wayne Ross (attorney for Doug Fredericks): In the old days we picked up hitchhikers because we looked out for one another as Alaskans... We can't do that so much any more because we can't trust people. When we try to help people, sometimes we get mugged. because when we try to help people, sometimes we get mugged. I see that situation here. The NPS was duplicitous in this case. They let people know that they had the meeting because they wanted to consider all alternatives but in point of fact that wasn't the reason that was advanced at the meeting; people came in good faith to see how they could help, there's things we can do. Mr. Frederick, like picking up a hitchhiker, he got mugged.

Your questions, your honor are more insightful then your decision [earlier to convict].
Because your questions hit right to the heart of the matter...
And that is, "Why did you have the meeting?"

11:31 We have a federal system that is not being open and above board with its dealings with the general public. The decision had already been made to close the was this man (Hunter Sharp at meeting) saying "we don't have the money to repair these trails," when in point of fact they didn't intend to allow the trails—it didn't matter how much money they had. they claimed they didn't have the money to maintain the trails, and yet there was substantial money spent on airplane rides looking at the trails thereafter, there was substantial money spent in prosecuting Mr. Frederick, far more than it would have taken to fix the trails up I believe, we had rangers come down from the park for the trial, I think if I recall there were at least three, we've got rangers sitting in the courtroom today, away from their duties, in effect the national park service is paying more to prosecute this man than if they had just said, "we have some bucks to fix up these trails." How much money did they spend? We don't know.

13:31 I know how much Mr. Frederick's attorney fees are and they are substantial.
And I intend to take the appeal for this case on a PRO BONO, because he cannot afford an appeal, but one should be done because what the park service has done was not correct, was not credible, was not honest.

When you have an Alaskan, an "old school Alaskan," who attempts to help people out— and says, "here's my proposal," and the testimony was there was a workshop set up to discuss these things, and Mr. Arnberger's, ... Email to Mr. Fredericks said "discuss this, it is a viable solution," and Mr. Frederick testified that he tried to discuss it, and they weren't interested, and then several days later he gets a citation—there is dishonesty there on the part of the park service. There shouldn't be any fine, there shouldn't be any conviction, but you have made your decision on that regard, and I would submit to you that the fine, if any, should be minimal. We have an indirect loss of his daughter as a result of the park service having filed this charge...

16:10 - Doug Frederick Statement - Your Honor, You have made your decision, but I feel that I have to say this. I’ve lived in this part of the state since before statehood. I watched the NPS come in and over the years have watched the NPS employees change the interpretation of park regulations. I’ve watched the NPS harass all types of visitors to the park so that they will not come back to visit the Park. I have never seen the NPS try to work with the locals or the public.

We noticed the trend of the NPS of trying to take away our access rights, so a group of us tried to come up with a solution to this one of several problems that we have with the NPS. I was the spokesman for this group. I went to the Regional Director of the NPS, because all of our efforts to work with the local NPS officials were to no avail, with this problem and it was determined to set up a workshop to work on this. The local NPS officials twisted this workshop away from what we had set up.

The bridging that I was citied for was a test put in to be looked at during the workshop to see if it was a viable temporary solution to the problem. The Regional Director of the NPS thought that it was a temporary solution. This bridging could be approved, expanded or taken out after the workshop. The local NPS officials running this workshop twisted the workshop away from the main issue to set me up.

Of all the people involved in this, I was the only one citied. We have been putting in planks and plywood for over 10 years to bridge bad sections of these trails and have never been told that we could not do this. The NPS has been using these fixes for several years and have never said anything.

There have been permanent bridges built in this area that the NPS knows about that did not require a permit, as the attached photos show.

20:26 -When asked why I took this citation to court, I felt that had to show how the NPS can twist things to force out an inholder. This citation has cost me dearly and I don’t have the funds, energy, etc to appeal your decision. This was a very important case for the American public.

20:55 - Magistrate Roberts - Maybe NPS could be more forthright at these meetings that there won't be a trail because they don't want a trail...

29 - Even though I'm concerned that the NPS is not as candid as they could have been... The point is that they [NPS] don't want the trail so they are don't want to fix it because they don't want it.


32:25 - Magistrate Roberts: "I am sorry about your daughter. I don't know all of the facts of that case. It's easy to look at something as if this hadn't happened, then that wouldn't have, and wouldn't have been in a particular place or whatever. I can't really see blaming the NPS for that. I'm sorry that happened and I'm sure they are too.  As far as cooperating with the park service, I hope that you will keep an open mind.  If you don't agree, then pursue your remedies.  But you need to at least listen to what they have to say and not turn a deaf ear or refuse to even read anything that they say or  put out.  Because this is going to affect your lifestyle out there and other people around there too. So we all have to get along even though we don't agree with  decisions another person makes, that's our system.  The benefit of our country is we have the freedom to speak out and to be heard and to pursue remedies to the last resort. " 

REALITY:  Life in the bush is risky. The NPS has figured out that if it imposes added burdens that cause unnecessary travel and impediments, these risks will go up!  It has one effective pressure tactic in its tool box that it deploys with impunity against inholders.  The NPS knows -- in the long run -- it can weaken its targets by taking actions that cause an increase in stress, accidents, financial losses and tragedies in the lives of people it wants off of private lands of interest to the park.  AND THE NPS KNOWS IT GETS AWAY WITH IT!  There is no accountability with Federal Courts making excuses and providing cover for this agency.  Same story with the Pilgrim airlift crash.  An unnecessary and risky airlift caused by the NPS blockade of the Pilgrim family's road access.

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