Madison v. Alaska Dept. of

Fish and Game: 1985

Richard Caulfield:

Legal challenge to the rural priority. The revised statute embedded the rural priority in law rather than simply in policy, and defined rural areas as places where subsistence uses are 'a principal characteristic of the community or area'. The state boards of fisheries and game were authorized to use special criteria to determine which uses of fish and wildlife qualify as subsistence uses. It required that the boards to identify specific fish stocks and game populations used for subsistence. Subsistence would be regulated, but the court also mandated that subsistence regulations give rural residents a reasonable opportunity to maintain their lifestyle.

Sealaska Native Corporation:

The decision forced the State legislature to amend its subsistence law in 1986 to limit the definition of subsistence uses to "rural areas", thereby complying with Title VIII of ANILCA. This was quickly challenged in the State courts when AFN intervened in that litigation to defend the constitutionality of the state's rural priority.

David Hullen of the Anchorage Daily News:

"The Alaska Supreme Court struck down fishing regulations stemming from the 1978 subsistence act that imposed a rural residency requirement for all subsistence users. The justices said the regulations were inconsistent with the Alaska Legislature's 1978 subsistence act (though they appeared to conform to ANILCA). After the decision, the Secretary of the Interior notified the state of Alaska that its fish and game laws no longer were consistent with ANILCA, and that the federal gov. would take over on June 1,1986."

Taylor Brelsford: "In the Madison case, the Alaska Supreme Court overturned regulations limiting subsistence uses to rural residents on the grounds that Alaska statute had included no such provision. The Department of the Interior notified Governor Sheffield that the state could be found in noncompliance with ANILCA Title VIII."

Scott Ogan, Representative in the Alaska State Legislature for House District 27: The Alaska Supreme Court in the Madison decision, rule[d] that state regulations limiting subsistence to rural residents (enacted by the Joint Boards in 1982) are not consistent with state's 1978 subsistence law. The Interior Department notifie[d] the state that the Madison decision violate[d] the provisions of ANILCA and threaten[ed] takeover of fish and wildlife on public lands unless the state comes up with a new subsistence law, incorporating the rural limitation.


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