Alaskan moose hunter John Sturgeon took his fight to operate a hovercraft on state-owned rivers all the way to the Supreme Court. He won that right by unanimous decision Tuesday.
“Sturgeon can again rev up his hovercraft in search of moose,” wrote Justice Elena Kagan in her opinion.
Mr. Sturgeon had been piloting his hovercraft through Alaskan waters for some 40 years, bound for “Moose Meadows,” his favorite hunting ground.
In 2007, National Park Service rangers ordered Mr. Sturgeon off the Nation River, which runs through the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve in northeast Alaska, informing the hunter that it was illegal to operate the amphibious vehicle on the waterway.
Mr. Sturgeon sued the federal agency, then waited years for the final outcome — which arrived in a 46-page decision, which traced historical factors with the case that dated back to the purchase of Alaska itself, in 1867.
“U.S. Supreme Court justices ruled unanimously that the Nation River doesn’t qualify as ‘public land’ for the purposes of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act,” explained The Associated Press, which analyzed the court’s decision. “The sweeping 1980 law created 10 new national park units following natural boundaries rather than federally owned lands, adding more than 18 million acres of state, Native and private land. Nor does the park service have authority to regulate Sturgeon’s activities on the part of the river that falls within the preserve.”