Wrangell-St. Elias News

Wrangell-St. Elias News-Gary Green



LET NATIONAL PARK RESIDENTS THRIVE!  Critically important Anchorage Daily News Op-Ed by Neil Darish, owner of the McCarthy Lodge.

    Maps:   General area   McCarthy Creek road (464KB file)  1939 Map   Pilgrim Family:  Fact Sheet    The Pilgrim Story      
More photos!
   History of the McCarthy Creek road  Road Photos: Current  Historic  

ACCESS PERMIT & Hale v. Norton lawsuit  now before 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.  ALSO, access permit chronology and EA. SHORT COURSE: 80 YEAR HISTORY OF NPS ABUSE AND MISCONDUCT - ALASKA VERSION 
Mammoth NEW CUT LINES in McCarthy Creek Valley

- This is a quick summary you can download and share with newspaper writers, elected officials and others about the trail of tears left by the Park Service over the years. You’ll want to use this list over and over so be sure to save it.

Thought provoking! 685k PDF
Dramatic true story of NPS intimidation
Inholders Squashed!

MEDIA LOG & MAJOR EVENTS  = listen to audio!       2003 archives

12/08 Robert Allen Hale: Papa Pilgrim - The Darkest Place - Outside Magazine.  It's turned out well for the Hale family after all.  The NPS was not allowed to pick a target of opportunity to take away the rights of all because no one would come to their aid [see item below]. 
Historic first RWCA issued by Danny Rosenkrans - The National Park Service (NPS) Alaska Regional Director, Marcia Blaszak, and private landowners Susan and Jack Smith, signed an Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) 1110(b) Right-of-Way Certificate of Access (RWCA) on April 23, 2008.  NOTE:  The NPS managers that launched the attack on the Hale/Pilgrim family said they would never grant access.  They are now gone and more ethical replacements have done the right thing and followed the law.
9/28/05 ALRA Statement   
5/13/04 KENDALL BEAUDRY - Anchorage Daily News - Pilgrims' music proves to be big hit Outside - Finally, some good news!   


NEIL DARISH - Anchorage Daily News [Op-Ed] - Let national park residents thrive - In the 1960s, conservationists considered man a threat to the wilderness. Old Park Service management philosophy marginalized or eliminated locals. New Park Service management ideas incorporate cultural assets, and some parks are "run with, for and, in some cases, by local people"...In Europe and much of the developing world, "living landscapes" and residents are embraced as an essential part of their national parks; and it has been that way for the last 50 years. America's Park Service still struggles with thriving cultures as a resource worthy of preservation...In the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio, there is fresh thinking about the notion of a "lived-in" park. The superintendent, John Debo, views continued occupancy, in certain circumstances, to contribute to the purposes for which the park was created. He uses the terminology "residents" and "partners" rather than "in-holders," the latter implying something to be eliminated...The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act enshrines Alaska's preservation of the cultural elements of remote living. The Park Service did not welcome private property in parks when Wrangell-St. Elias was formed. Congress created ANILCA to protect against the old Park Service management objective of eliminating all private land...The Park Service can become our hero if we as resident stewards are treated with respect by the Park Service -- here and in Washington, D.C...What is needed is a clear statement from our Park Service Alaska regional director that her philosophy allows the residents in this park to thrive.

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Wrangell St. Elias News - Judge orders token fine for Pilgrim son - Says Park Service should avoid “bully reputation” - Son elected next day by District 6 Republicans as delegate to state convention.   Pilgrim update.    For your consideration - Where has all the money gone? The National Park Service (NPS) has come under close scrutiny by members of Congress who have criticized the agencies plans...“it is just the latest chapter in a tale of Park Service mismanagement...Give the Park Service brass their walking papers (Bob Schieffer, CBS News)".   Governor orders investigation - by Susan Smith - Governor Murkowski asks for Investigation into alleged NPS misdeeds.  Residents Of the Wrangells (ROW) assembles testimonials from residents of the park who are experiencing problems, telling their own stories in their own words and documenting cases of inappropriate behavior.   Exchange with NPCA's Jim Stratton over RS 2477 routes in WRST.


TOM KIZZIA - Anchorage Daily News - Pilgrim clan to gain winter access - PARK LAND: The permit will allow 18 trips via bulldozer in the next year - The decision was immediately criticized by the family's attorneys as too little, too late and by environmental groups as too generous for opening the door to more travel by bulldozers across national parks...Park officials loosened several requirements since first proposing the permit in January, based on public comments. But they didn't go far enough, said the family's Anchorage lawyer, J.P. Tangen.  "We're extraordinarily disappointed," Tangen said Thursday. "What seems to be lost on the Park Service is it is relatively dangerous to run a tracked vehicle on frozen ground that's not laterally flat. There's a risk of side-slipping when traversing ice or packed snow above the river."...Rick Kenyon, publisher of the Wrangell-St. Elias News in McCarthy, submitted comments calling the environmental study a "sad misuse" of funds better spent on visitor facilities.  "I have watched over the past 12 months as the Park Service has attempted in numerous and devious ways to deny access to this family," Kenyon wrote. "More distressing, park rangers have used intimidation and slander in an attempt to demoralize and frustrate the Pilgrims. Shame on the National Park Service."  Local supporters in the group Residents of the Wrangells, calling bulldozer access customary and traditional, said, "Fastidious care taken to protect vegetation, rocks and soil on an alignment trampled by decades of bulldozer usage is absurd."



Dan Joling - Fairbanks Daily News-Miner - Park Service grants Pilgrims' road permit [Associated Press] - ANCHORAGE - However, the announcement comes too late to help the Pilgrim family this winter, a spokesman said. The route is impassible.  "The biggest problem, we have six and a half feet of snow," Joseph Pilgrim, the family's oldest son, said Thursday...The route was dangerous early after freeze-up because of glaciation on the steep mountainside sections. Covered by deep snow, it cannot be used by the heavy equipment needed for hauling in building materials, Pilgrim said. "As far as I'm concerned, it's useless."  Meanwhile, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday ruled that the family can proceed with its lawsuit seeking immediate opening of the road without the restrictions set by the Park Service. "The Pilgrims' lawsuit will not be affected by the permit the Park Service granted today, which is so burdened with conditions that it will make it extremely onerous, if not impossible, for the Pilgrims to use the road," said Russ Brooks, an attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation, a public interest legal organization helping the family...Jim Stratton, Alaska regional director for the National Parks Conservation Association, said the Park Service decision Thursday sets a bad precedent. "Expanding existing appropriate access by airplane, snowmobile and horses to include bulldozers significantly changes Park Service rules for what's appropriate, and opens the door for bulldozers to become a damaging mode of everyday transportation in parks across Alaska," he said.  Same [part only] Juneau Empire
3/12/04 Blaine Harden - Washington Post - In Alaska, Rancher Is Offered Park Access - As long as there's snow on the ground and ice in the creek, the Alaskan who calls himself Papa Pilgrim can drive a bulldozer nine times in the next 13 months across the largest national park in the United States, according to the National Park Service...The government's offer, however, will be rejected, according to Pilgrim's lawyer, Russell C. Brooks of the Pacific Legal Foundation, which champions land rights.  "This is what the park has tried to offer all along, and it is not adequate," Brooks said.  By coincidence, just as the Park Service was offering a permit to the Pilgrims, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit announced on Thursday that it will hear Pilgrim's appeal on a lawsuit demanding greater park access.

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Wrangell St. Elias News - Community intervenes to pay NPS fine
Is Wrangell St. Elias National Park endangered?  YES  NO 
Editorial Cartoon - Department of Injustice 
ROW Meeting -        NPS issues McCarthy Creek Access EA
Letters to the Editor


TOM KIZZIA - Anchorage Daily News - Pilgrims may get road permit - RESTRICTIONS: Temporary agreement would be applicable in winter conditions - The family's attorney said...the park's proposal is not safe because of winter hazards. The Pilgrims had sought access in fall, after the ground freezes but before snow falls and before freeze-up on McCarthy Creek.

A Pilgrim supporter dismissed the whole environmental study process as heavy-handed. The park could have offered the same solution last September, in time for the family to haul in supplies for this winter, said Anchorage property rights activist Ray Kreig.  "This isn't about the environment," Kreig said. "This is about pressure and intimidation and punishment of anybody that tries to use their access rights."

Kreig called the park's environmental anxieties absurd in light of its own decision to allow surveyors to clearcut a rectangular line around the Pilgrims' remote land last summer. That did far more damage than Papa Pilgrim's clearing of the old roadbed, Kreig said -- and it was done without any environmental assessment.

On the other side, a conservationist who has followed the case closely, called it a "weird irony" that the new environmental study was done for a road that had already been bulldozed open. The call would have been tougher if it were still overgrown.  "Looking at it from one angle, they're being rewarded," said Jim Stratton, regional director for the National Parks Conservation Association. "But you couldn't go back and pretend the road isn't what it is today."  Stratton also said he would object to keeping the road open permanently to the Pilgrims' inholding.

Candelaria application for a permanent permit...would be more serious and probably require a full-blown environmental impact statement looking at a broader range of issues than does the current 126-page report.

1/23/04 MARY PEMBERTON (Associated Press) - Fairbanks Daily News-Miner - Park Service favors compromise in Pilgrim Family feud - Papa Pilgrim, 62, said..."Nobody in our family wants to harm the land any kind of way," Pilgrim said. "My family has a real interest in taking care of the national park. We really care a lot about the land..."  Pilgrim said the family also desperately needs large rolls of insulation to keep ice from accumulating on the inside walls. Last week, the temperature dropped to 40 degrees below zero. It was minus-15 Friday.

Russell C. Brooks, a lawyer with the Pacific Legal Foundation representing the family, said his clients should not have had to go through this in the first place..."This road is basically their driveway. It is access from their home to town. Should a person need a permit to drive down their driveway?" 

The whole affair makes the Park Service look bad...said Chuck Cushman, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based American Land Rights Association..."Alaska is losing access to its lands. The Park Service is systematically stealing access to Alaska's private and public lands," Cushman said.

OTHER OUTLETS: The Guardian (London) ; Newsday (Long Island NY)Atlanta Journal Constitution ; Daily News (Longview WA) ; Miami Herald ; Times-Picayune (New Orleans) ; Arizona Republic ; Kansas City Star ; Dayton Daily News (Ohio) ; Ft Wayne Journal Gazette ; MANY OTHERS 

1/23/04 Anchorage Daily News - Federal court turns down appeal from access-seeking Pilgrims

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Wrangell St. Elias News - Judge fines Joshua Pilgrim $1000 - Joshua said after the hearing that he still feels innocent and believes he was entrapped by the Park Service. The National Park Service “can’t find me guilty of anything,” he said. “They’ve got to create a situation to where I am guilty.”  Pilgrim family access request goes to 9th Circuit
Simple misdemeanor charges turn complex - The Pilgrim's attorney, Carl Bauman, has said the criminal citations against Joseph and Joshua are improper because the NPS is trying to use the criminal courts to affect disputes that in reality are civil matters over land status.  If Pilgrims lose land to park, we all do - Paula Easley   Is there a pattern? - Individuals...actually become tools in the hands of the Park Service. Regardless of how this trial turns out, whether he is found guilty or innocent, the Park Service wins. They have exerted tremendous pain and suffering...and communicated loud and clear to all those watching that they are a force to be reckoned with. Every one on their team goes home, well paid, and never inconvenienced. [The NPS target] however has suffered incalculable costs.
1/1/04 Media Log and Major Events prior to 2004 

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