Judge affirms Park Service control of Yukon River upstream from Circle City: Round Two of the Rumble on the River has gone to the National Parks Service. U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline on Monday ruled the federal agency acted properly in arresting 70-year-old Jim Wilde in September 2010 after he refused the orders of two rangers to stop his riverboat in the middle of the Yukon River. Wilde thought that a dangerous place to pause and went for shore, but first called rangers some dirty names. They responded by pointing a shotgun at him and his two passengers, and then followed him to shore, where they tackled and handcuffed the old man before hauling him off to jail. After a trial in the spring of 2011 in Fairbanks, at which it was revealed a federal prosecutor had made up some of the evidence to be used against Wilde, a federal magistrate found Wilde guilty of three misdemeanors -- interfering with the function of a federal agency, violating a lawful order and operating an unregistered boat. He was fined him $2,500. Wilde appealed on the grounds the Park Service lacked authority to police a state river. On appeal, Beistline ruled for the Park Service, accepting the argument that "Congress created the (Yukon-Charley Rivers) Preserve to protect the Yukon and Charley Rivers and directed the park service to protect the values associated with those rivers." The judge said that gives the Park Service authority over the Preserve stretch of the Yukon even if the state of Alaska owns the land beneath the river and the water. The judge also noted Americans have no right to resist or intentionally interfere “with a government employee or agent engaged in an official duty.'” Thus Wilde was required to stop no matter how stupid or dangerous he thought the rangers’ order, or how much more experience he might have had on the river. The National Parks and Conservation Association trumpeted the ruling as a victory for protection of Alaska parks. There was no word on whether Wilde and the state, which joined the suit, will appeal. The state has questioned giving the Park Service the authority to control traffic on a waterway, which once served as the main transportation route in the 49th state. Beistline suggested there's nothing the courts can do about that, writing that “any concerns regarding the practicability or propriety of this law would best be addressed by a legislative, not judicial, solution.”
Canada's Harper wants the North Pole: Earlier this week Canada was set to stake its claims in the Arctic seabed. But those claims didn’t go far enough for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, according to The Globe and Mail of Toronto, which reports that Harper sent officials back to come up with a new draft that includes the geographic North Pole. Citing senior officials, the paper said that Harper “is not prepared to forfeit Canada’s claim to the geographic North Pole to Russia and Denmark” two other Arctic nations expected to lay formal claim to the area. The U.S. has been increasing its military presence in the Arctic, and last month released a first-ever Arctic defense strategy, but it has not filed a claim similar to Canada’s because such claims are made under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, a treaty to which the U.S. is not signatory.