Alaskan Congressman Don Young met with National Park Service (NPS) Director Jon Jarvis and Alaska Regional Director Sue Masica this afternoon to discuss the egregious abuse of power displayed by NPS employees this summer in dealing with boaters in the Yukon Charley Rivers Preserve. Rep. Young requested this meeting after learning of events on the Yukon River in September, involving the harassment by NPS law enforcement officials of local boaters.
“I was in Congress when ANILCA was passed, and I believe the Park Service is blatantly misinterpreting the law regarding jurisdiction over navigable waters. The National Park Service has worked hard to build a rapport with Alaskans, and the rash actions taken by local enforcement authorities only serves to harm that relationship,” said Rep. Young. “There was absolutely no reason to have shotguns pointed at unarmed boaters, and no reason for this to have turned into such a hostile situation. Actions taken by these officials were completely inappropriate.
“In our meeting today I made it very clear to Director Jarvis that this overreaching by the Federal government is unacceptable. If it is not fixed, as a Member of the new Republican Majority on the Natural Resources Committee in the upcoming 112th Congress, I will have no qualms about bringing him and his team before the committee time and time again until it is resolved. Director Jarvis has assured me that he will work to ensure the NPS officials in Alaska receive proper training in how to co-exist with Alaskans who hunt and sport fish and those that depend on subsistence for their survival and will investigate this situation further. I will absolutely hold him to that. The regulatory laws that allow incidences such as this to occur are unacceptable and un-American and it is my priority to put a stop to such infringements on our constitutional rights!”
In September, Jim Wilde was traveling on the Yukon River within the Yukon Charley Rivers Preserve, when two Park rangers approached his boat and demanded to conduct a safety check.
Wilde believed it unsafe for the rangers to board a boat floating in the middle of the river, and shouted at the rangers that they should all head towards the riverbank. In response, a shotgun was trained on Wilde, his wife, and their 65 year old friend, as he headed to shore.
Just after setting anchor, the rangers threw him to the ground and arrested him. They brought him to Circle and then flew him to Fairbanks, where he was placed in jail for four days. Wilde was charged with four misdemeanors, each punishable by six months in jail and/ or a $5,000 fine.