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Press Release

State sues BLM over title to more land beneath Fortymile River

November 8, 2018

(Anchorage, AK) – The State of Alaska today filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management, asserting ownership of the submerged lands beneath the Middle Fork and North Fork of the Fortymile River. This lawsuit comes on the heels of other successful efforts to confirm the State’s ownership of navigable waterways across the State.

“Unlike many other areas in the U.S., Alaska’s waterways are very much still used as highways,” said Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth. “It’s important that this access be maintained for the public and that the federal government recognize the State’s ownership.”

Starting with the federal government’s disclaimer of interest in the Mosquito Fork of the Fortymile River, the State has successfully challenged the federal government’s failure to recognize the State’s ownership and management of the submerged lands beneath Alaska’s navigable waterways.

“Mosquito Fork was a long fought battle that finally resulted in a win for the State when BLM suddenly disclaimed its interest in the river on the eve of trial,” said Assistant Attorney General Jessie Alloway. “These cases take an enormous amount of research and evidence to prove navigability, and DNR has done an excellent job of making the case for state ownership.”

The Public Access Assertion and Defense Unit within the Department of Natural Resources is charged with the difficult task of gathering the historical and current evidence necessary to bring these lawsuits. The State has previously found the federal government reticent to recognize the State’s right to manage these waterways and maintain public access. Fortunately for the State, its success in court is paying dividends as it continues to work through these issues.

Since the case over Mosquito Fork, BLM has reversed its position and recognized state ownership in the following rivers:   Stikine, Knik, Delta, Kisaralik, West Fork of the Dennison Fork, and the Dennison Fork of the Fortymile.

“We are hopeful this case will not have to go to trial and can be resolved swiftly,” said Attorney General Lindemuth.

The State will now await the response from the federal government.

CONTACT: Assistant Attorney General Jessie Alloway at 269-5100 or

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