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Settlement Requiring State to Regulate Commercial Recreational Use of Public Lands

Earthjustice attorneys recently entered into a settlement resolving a lawsuit against the State of Alaska, which requires the Alaska Department of Natural Resources to promulgate regulations addressing large-scale commercial recreational day-use of state public land. The current system used by the State and challenged in the Earthjustice lawsuit requires no permits even for large-scale operations. The current system is unlawful because it has never been subject to the required public notice-and-comment process.

Due in large part to the continuing proliferation of cruise ship-based tourism, commercial recreation in Alaska continues to expand – in size, scope, location, and duration. This rapidly growing commercial activity is beginning to adversely affect wilderness values, fish and wildlife, and traditional recreational and other users of state lands.

The rulemaking process resulting from this settlement will allow interested parties to comment on how commercial recreation and other uses should be regulated on state public lands and will allow the state to examine appropriate management techniques for growing recreational use of public lands. Through this public process, our clients, Friends of Glacier Point, Lynn Canal Conservation, Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, and Alaska Center for the Environment, and others will advocate for a comprehensive system for regulating commercial recreation activities, including a permit system for high impact operations and conditions that protect against habitat degradation and excessive interference with other uses of public lands.