When all the cosmic tumblers click into place …

An allegedly ordinary alaskan won his lawsuit in the Supreme Court against the National Park Service. It cost over 10 years and a cool 1.5 million dollars to get the National Park Service to accept that ‘we don’t care how they do it outside’. Alaskan’s many times consider themselves above the law / rules or that the laws and rules do not apply to them.

Just ask them, they’ll tell you.

Seems the person in question was operating his hovercraft in the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve even though it was against NPS (National Park Service) rules. He did it for years without getting caught. Alaska is big, you know. One day he was repairing a cable on his boat and was happened upon by a couple of NPS rangers who gave him a ticket and made him tow his boat out of the preserve. And he didn’t like being told what the rules were and that he had to follow them like everyone else.

Hovercraft float on a cushion of air and skim over water and ground without causing too much damage to the environment. Except the the noise. Ah, the noise. Nothing better than being way out in the puckerbrush where the loudest sound you hear is the wind in your ears and your heart beating. Then here comes some asshole either riding or being pushed by a great big-assed fan. The decibels are painful.

It is easy to understand why the NPS would want to keep the noise down.

But that was in conflict with the man’s belief that the rules don’t apply to him and his boat and his right to make as much fucking noise as he wants. After all, it’s wilderness. It won’t bother anyone.

That particular argument is a bit specious. What the case pivoted on actually was a rehash of the old ‘navigable’ waterway laws that go back to European origins. Basically, if you can get a boat with cargo up a river, then no one can stop you. They can keep you from getting out of the boat. You can’t touch land. But they can’t stop you.

Everything was fine until he got out of the boat.

So who owned / controlled the gravel bar he was beached on making repairs? The feds or the state?

Years ago in order to gain free access to the oil and mineral riches of Alaska a deal was made. ANILCA was one of those deals. Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. It was to dive up Alaska between the feds, the state, and the natives so they could start pumping oil from Prudhoe. But the language of the deal wasn’t clear and simple enough. There was enough ambiguity for lawyers to make a buttload of money off the confusion.
And they have, and they will continue to do so.

This could have gone down a much different path if everyone had been willing to be reasonable. NPS should have given the man assistance in getting his craft repairs and out of the preserve. Rules recognizing uniquely Alaska issues such as access to subsistence hunting and fishing would have gone a long way to heading this off. An Alaskan hovercraft rule with a decibel and craft size limit possibly with a open season would have prevented a 1.5 million dollar payday to the lawyers.

Now every knothead in Alaska thinks he can drive his boat, aircraft, ATV, or truck deep into the wilderness as they choose.

Airboats, hovercraft, ATVs, drones, snow machines, etc all detract from the unspoiled lands we have in Alaska. Noise does have an effect on the wildlife and should be limited. As an example, take a look at the Grand Canyon. Flight restrictions are in place due to rush of midair collisions and noise.

Beware what you wish for Alaska, that noise maybe from your neighbor and he thinks it’s OK for him to keep pumping out the db.

Given the current federal and state administrations at this time, it’s a wonder he didn’t get a cash settlement as well and approval to run monster trucks up the Charley River.

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