The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments Wednesday morning in a case challenging the National Park Service’s authority to ban hovercraft in Alaska’s federal parks and preserves.
The case began in 2007, when park rangers found Anchorage moose hunter John Sturgeon and his boat on a gravel bar in the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve.
They told him the Park Service doesn’t allow hovercraft travel.
Sturgeon, backed by briefs from the state of Alaska and many Native corporations, says the Park Service is over-reaching, in violation of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.
Native corporations say if Sturgeon loses, it could extend Park Service regulation to the millions of acres they own that sit within the borders of federal conservation units.
An attorney representing subsistence users says if Sturgeon wins, it could undermine the federal subsistence priority on rivers across the state.