State of Alaska plans to sue feds over trail corridors across public land

a person hiking in the mountains
A hiker in the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve (Greg Kinman/NPS)

The state of Alaska intends to sue Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to gain title to 10 trail corridors within the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve.

The preserve, managed by the National Park Service, extends west from the Canadian border. It encompasses the Charley River basin and a small portion of the Yukon River.

Attorney General Treg Taylor has issued a notice of intent to sue over 10 ribbons of land that total about 500 linear miles. It’s part of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s “Unlocking Alaska” initiative, to assert state land rights.

The claim is based on an 1866 federal law known as RS2477. The law was intended to grant rights of way for roads across unused federal lands. It was repealed in 1976, but there’s an exception for trails that were already established.

Federal regulations allow the Interior secretary to cede RS2477 rights of way, essentially saying the federal government has no property interest in a trail.

The trails the state intends to sue over all go across federal land. Some are near the community of Eagle.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Alaska Public Media. She reports from the U.S. Capitol and from Anchorage. Reach her at

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