Congressman supports Supreme Court appellant, shows up to fund raiser on hovercraft

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - As the president prepares to announce his next nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, Alaska's lone congressman spent part of his holiday week supporting an Alaska man taking his case to the nation's highest court for the second time. And the Congressman arrived at the fund raiser by way of the vehicle that started the case.

Rep. Don Young arrives at a fundraiser for U.S. Supreme Court appellant John Sturgeon. (KTVF)

John Sturgeon was hunting on a hovercraft 11 years ago when he was stopped by federal park rangers telling him they had authority over the river.

A fundraiser was held last week for Sturgeon, who's battling the federal government's authority over state waters.

In the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers the state of Alaska, a three-judge panel said the Park Service has regulatory authority over a river, even if the state claims ownership of the riverbed.

The U.S. Supreme Court disagreed in 2016, sending the case back to the Ninth Circuit for reconsideration. The court again sided with the National Park Service.

Sturgeon has since filed a second petition for the court to hear the case. That petition was granted in June.

[RELATED: Supreme Court to again take up Alaska hovercraft case]

Thursday, Congressman Don Young accompanied Sturgeon on a hovercraft that pulled into Pike's Landing. They were greeted by local residents and politicians.

After that, both Sturgeon and Young took turns speaking.

Young said he believes Sturgeon is a leader because the Supreme Court's decision has the potential to change the future of Alaska's waterways.

It's been a battle over whether or not the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, or ANILCA, can prohibit the National Park Service from having control over state waterways.

Young says the case is important for the state, especially Alaska's young people.

"Well they don't understand what is being done to them. They're not used to it. They haven't read the history of Alaska, the statehood act, itself, where the federal government is actually overreaching with what I call regulatory laws, and they don't understand that they'll wake up, some day, and they won't be able to go anywhere in the state without getting a permit from the federal government. And we're supposed to be a state, not a colony of the federal government," said Don Young.

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