1982: JOINT BOARDS RURAL REGULATION

Alaska’s subsistence statute originally did not include a preference for rural residents. Nonetheless, in 1982, the Joint Boards of Fisheries and Game adopted regulatory language establishing a subsistence priority for rural residents.

1985: MADISON DECISION

In 1985, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled in Madison v. Alaska Department of Fish and Game, 696 P.2d (Alaska 1985), that the Joint Boards’ regulations were not consistent with the 1978 subsistence statute, because the statute did not provide a priority for rural residents. Therefore the regulations were invalid, and the state fell out of compliance with Title VIII.

1986: AMENDMENTS TO ALASKA’S SUBSISTENCE LAW

In 1986, the Alaska legislature substantially changed the state’s 1978 subsistence law. It amended the definition of “subsistence uses” to require residency in a rural area and it defined “rural areas.” The amended law required the state boards to identify which fish stocks and wildlife populations were customarily and traditionally taken by subsistence users and to adopt regulations providing subsistence users reasonable opportunity to harvest these resources. The Department of Interior again found the state to be in compliance with Title VIII of ANILCA.

1989: MCDOWELL DECISION

A group of nonrural residents filed a court challenge to the state’s revised subsistence law. In 1989, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled in McDowell v. State of Alaska, 785 P.2d 1 (Alaska 1989), that the rural preference language of the state’s subsistence statute violated the equal access clauses of the state constitution. Consequently, the state’s subsistence program was no longer in compliance with Title VIII of ANILCA.



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