Press Release Jan 19, 2016

National Parks Group Defends Park Service’s Authority to Manage Its Waterways

NPCA is siding with the National Park Service as the U.S. Supreme Court takes up Sturgeon v. Frost, a lawsuit challenging the park service’s  authority to manage activities on navigable rivers within parks in Alaska.  

Anchorage, AK – On Wednesday, January 20, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear oral argument in Sturgeon v. Frost, a suit challenging the National Park Service’s authority to manage activities on navigable rivers within parks in Alaska. National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) and allies, represented by the nonprofit law firm Trustees for Alaska, filed an amicus brief supporting the National Park Service’s efforts to enforce safety and other park regulations on waters within the parks.

The National Park Service regulates rivers and lakes located in Parks throughout the United States. The issue in this case is whether a provision of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) strips the Park Service of power to regulate navigable waters within the Parks. John Sturgeon, a hunter, cited for operating a hovercraft within Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, argues that Congress withdrew Park Service authority over rivers and lakes within Alaska park units.

“National Parks Conservation Association stands by the National Park Service as it faces challenges to its authority to enforce public safety and other park regulations inside the parks,” said Jim Adams, NPCA’s Alaska Regional Director. “Many of Alaska’s national parks were created specifically to protect river-related resources. It’s common sense that activities on rivers within national parks and preserves be managed by the National Park Service to protect these values for future generations of Americans to explore, enjoy, and cherish.”

Valerie Brown, Legal Director of Trustees for Alaska, noted: “Mr. Sturgeon’s argument is wrong because ANILCA and other relevant statutes expressly preserve the Park Services power to regulate navigation. Loss of this power would cripple its ability to protect and manage national parks.”

The Supreme Court will decide the case by the end of June.


About National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit

Read more from NPCA

  • Blog Post

    FAQs: Protecting America’s Legacy Campaign

    May 2024 | By Lam Ho, Linda Coutant

    NPCA recently launched a $300 million Protecting America’s Legacy campaign. Here’s everything you need to know to be informed and engaged with this fundraising initiative.

  • Blog Post

    A Renaissance in Flamingo

    May 2024 | By Cara Capp, John Adornato

    Thanks to NPCA’s decades-long work, a new visitor center has opened at Flamingo in Everglades National Park and the area’s namesake birds are returning.

  • Blog Post

    5 Major Victories for Wildlife, Water and Public Lands

    Apr 2024 | By Linda Coutant

    After years of advocacy work, NPCA scored massive wins for Alaska’s caribou, conservation of public lands and waterways, and protection of national parks from future oil and gas drilling.…