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Alaska Supreme Court Issues Opinion on Brenwick-Craig Road

Land Use Permits Required for Camping & Day Use Activities on Ahtna Lands

Glennallen, Alaska – Ahtna, Incorporated is disappointed in the Alaska Supreme Court’s decision on the Brenwick-Craig Road case. In a decision on reconsideration, the court reversed its prior ruling that the public may only use the right of way, claimed under an obscure 1866 law known as Revised Statute 2477 (RS 2477), for ingress and egress.  However, the court declined to elaborate which other uses may be allowed. The Court also rejected Ahtna’s aboriginal title defenses to these pre-Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) land claims, despite the Ahtna peoples 11,000-year history of using and occupying the lands.

We’re still in the process of understanding the court’s decision. All private landowners in Alaska should be concerned with the implications of this decision when it comes to their property rights.

Brenwick-Craig Road, also referred to as Klutina Lake Road, is a narrow dirt path that follows the bluff of the Klutina River from Copper Center on the Richardson Highway to Klutina Lake, a distance of about 25 miles. This controversy started in 2007 after the State wrongfully cleared the entire width of a portion of the right of way, destroying Ahtna, Incorporated’s fee stations and signs.

At no time during the 15-year dispute has the public been denied access to Klutina River, Klutina Lake, and nearby State land that is accessed over Ahtna’s property. Ahtna supports responsible use of its homelands and appreciates permit holders respect of the lands and their cultural and spiritual importance. Any activity on Brenwick-Craig Road’s adjoining private lands owned by Ahtna requires a land use permit. Permits are available at for overnight camping and day use activities such as parking, fishing and boat launching. An Ahtna Region land app is available for download that clearly shows property boundaries and public and private land ownership in the area to help visitors plan accordingly.

The Ahtna people have been managing the land and natural resources across 26 million acres, an area about the size of the state of Ohio, for thousands of years. After the passage of ANCSA, Ahtna, Incorporated was left with 1.55 million acres of land from an entitlement of 1.77 million acres – less than seven percent of our traditional homeland. We will continue to fight to protect our rights to every acre of land left in our entitlement.