Pilgrim Family Fact Sheet (June 2003)

See also: The Pilgrim Story by Dorothy Adler Wrangell St. Elias News (McCarthy, Alaska)

Please use in your sharing of this story and your efforts to help the Pilgrim Family in McCarthy, Alaska, regain use of their road without interference or fear of arrest by National Park Service armed rangers.

Pilgrim Family Fact Sheet - Dateline: McCarthy, Alaska

National Park Service officials at the Wrangell St. Elias National Park in Alaska have targeted a family of 17 that owns 400 acres in the middle of the park. Such private landowners within federal boundaries are called 'inholders.' The family has been harassed for the past year by park rangers.

The family's legal name is Hale, and the property is registered in that name. However they prefer to be called the Pilgrims.

These folks are pacifists, very akin to the Mennonite faith. They are a law-abiding, God-fearing family of 17 that dresses and talks differently -- outspoken in their faith in God and opposition to evil -- but are loving, caring people who have been a real blessing to their neighbors.

In April 2003, the NPS posted notices that the family could not use the McCarthy-Green Butte trail, a well-documented RS2477 route that is listed with DNR as RS135. The McCarthy-Green Butte route RS135 follows the creek, crossing some 17 times. Until about 1970 the bridges were maintained, but have all washed out now. It is a rugged, somewhat dangerous route. The closure was clearly illegal. The NPS has no authority over this road, which is the only road for the Pilgrims to access their home and the town of McCarthy. NPS says that the Pilgrims created a new road through the park. This is false. NPS says that the Pilgrims upgraded an existing road without obtaining a permit. This is also false. All the family has done is to use an existing road and do minimal maintenance work on that road, which is clearly within the provisions of RS2477.

The NPS is 'pulling out all of the stops' in their effort to destroy the Pilgrim family. I talked with NPS Assistant Superintendent Hunter Sharp yesterday and he told me the following:

1. On or about June 14, a 3-person BLM survey crew will arrive at the Marvelous Millsite property and the Spokane Placer for the purpose of establishing the boundaries. (That's fine, we want the NPS to know where their property is. The family has agreed to this, but has asked that the impact to their children and livestock be minimized by using local air taxi aircraft rather than helicopters.)

2. The surveyors will be accompanied by a NPS 'Special Events Team' of 6-8 armed Rangers, plus local Rangers. This is ridiculous. NPS has painted the family as being dangerous, which escalates NPS actions to the bizarre.

3. At the same time, a team of "experts" will start up the McCarthy Creek Trail (McCarthy-Green Butte RS135) for the purpose of documenting any "damage" that may have been done to the park lands. (NPS does not recognize this as a legal state right-of-way, despite mountains of evidence that it is.) This team will consist of a Biologist, a Fisheries person, 2 Botanists, an Archeologist and a Geologist. They will be accompanied by 3 more armed Rangers.

4. Helicopters will be used to transport this army of NPS shooters and surveyors up the creek, although the Pilgrims have specifically offered use of their airstrip by light plane to avoid the noise and confusion of helicopter landings and overflights near the livestock. NPS specifically announced that "We will take all reasonable precautions to minimize any disruption" during the survey.

The trail in question has been listed in state statute as a legal, valid state right-of-way.

NPS apparently plans to charge the family with any "damage" they find along this route, although others have maintained the road in recent years and have not been cited or even warned by NPS.

This is clearly a case where a family has been targeted for punitive action. It apparently is also designed to frighten the other residents into submission. The slander/smear campaign by the park people has been disgusting.

At the same time, the NPS informational office in Chitina, Alaska, and the Kiosk at the end of the McCarthy Road, have been closed due to "budget cuts." Apparently the park management is funneling all of its resources into this campaign to destroy a family and acquire control of their property (400 acres in the middle of the park).

For updates on this unfolding situation


A map of Alaska showing the general location of McCarthy

Detailed topographical map of the local area

Another website with several maps of the area


Rick Kenyon
Wrangell St. Elias News (WSEN)
McCarthy, Alaska
Phone: 907-554-4454 (4 hours behind EST; 1 hour behind California time)
Fax: 907-554-4494

See also: The Pilgrim Story by Dorothy Adler Wrangell St. Elias News (McCarthy, Alaska)

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