In response to reports of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) restricting Alaskans' access to federal lands and waters, Governor Parnell today called and spoke with Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to defend Alaskans' lawful access rights.
Under federal law, including the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), federal lands and waters are to be open and accessible without fees or permits.
"Whether it's for hunting, fishing, or subsistence, Alaskans' access opportunities cannot lawfully be curtailed due to a federal government shutdown," Governor Parnell said. "We will fight to ensure our people have rightful access to federal lands during the shutdown."
In his call with Secretary Jewell, the governor sought a consistent federal Alaskan land management policy in response to the federal shutdown. The USFWS has closed all refuge hunting and fishing opportunities until the government reopens while, on the other hand, the National Park Service (NPS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have both given guidance allowing continued use and access.
"Although the federal shutdown has closed federal facilities, Alaskans should not be prevented from gaining lawful access to all federal lands, most of which are undeveloped and remote," Governor Parnell continued. "Our local federal guidance on this from both the NPS and BLM is correct and consistent with ANILCA. Unfortunately, Fish and Wildlife has taken a different view, and we want that changed."
Governor Parnell appreciates Secretary Jewell's prompt attention to this matter. And, the governor has directed members of his administration to follow up with Alaska's congressional delegation as well as key members of the Obama administration.