Ninth Circuit Affirms Katie John Subsistence Rights Ruling

Here is the opinion.

And the court’s syllabus:

The panel affirmed the district court’s decisions upholding the 1999 Final Rules promulgated by the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture to implement part of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act concerning subsistence fishing and hunting rights.

In Alaska v. Babbitt, 72 F.3d 698 (9th Cir. 1995) (“Katie John I”), the court held that, because Congress included subsistence fishing in Title VIII, the Act applied to some of Alaska’s navigable waters. The 1999 Rules identified which navigable waters within Alaska constituted “public lands” under Title VIII of the Act, which provides a priority to rural Alaska residents for subsistence hunting and fishing on such lands.

As threshold issues, the panel held that the Secretaries appropriately used notice-and-comment rulemaking, rather than adjudication, to identify whose waters are “public lands” for the purpose of determining the scope of the Act’s rural subsistence policy; and that in construing the term “public lands,” the Secretaries were entitled to “some deference.” The panel concluded that, in the 1999 Rules, the Secretaries applied Katie John I and the federal reserved water rights doctrine in a principled manner. The panel held that it was reasonable for the Secretaries to decide that: the “public lands” subject to the Act’s rural subsistence priority included the waters within and adjacent to federal reservations; and reserved water rights for Alaska Native Settlement allotments were best determined on a case-by-case basis.

Briefs are here.

Lower court materials are here.

This entry was posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Research and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Ninth Circuit Affirms Katie John Subsistence Rights Ruling

  1. Ann Tweedy says:

    I worked on this in practice. It’s great to see it finally affirmed!

  2. Pingback: Alaska Seeks Supreme Court Review of Alaska Native Susbistence Rights under Katie John | Turtle Talk

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