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Murkowski convenes meeting after Yukon-Charley controversy

From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage –

Sen. Lisa Murkowski is bringing together the state attorney general and the superintendent of the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve following the controversy over how the National Park Service has enforced boating regulations in the preserve.

Murkowski is describing it as a roundtable discussion to “address jurisdictional issues on navigable waterways within federal lands in Alaska.” Congressman Don Young put a provision in the House version of the Interior Department budget bill seeking to forbid the National Park Service from enforcing regulations on waters in the Yukon-Charley preserve.

Young says he wants to stop the kind of boat safety inspections that led to a confrontation between rangers and a 70-year-old Central resident in September. The Park Service argues the language is so broad that it could open the preserve to dredge mining and close it to subsistence fishing.

Murkowski is holding the panel discussion next Monday at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

She says it will include Yukon-Charley Superintendent Greg Dudgeon, Alaska Attorney General John Burns, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Geoff Haskett, Alaska Department of Natural Resources Deputy Commissioner Ed Fogels and senior state natural resources lawyer Elizabeth Barry.

Young asserts "the Park Service in Alaska has become, very frankly, like, I would say, an occupied army of a free territory." He maintains the Yukon River is state water and that the Park Service has no business enforcing its rules there.

The Parnell administration made that same argument when it filed a friend of the court brief in the case of the Central man, Jim Wilde, who was jailed after a confrontation with rangers on the river last September.

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