State of Alaska files lawsuit asking court to affirm Campbell Lake public access

The State of Alaska filed a lawsuit today in State Superior Court asking that the court affirm the existence of public access easements on Campbell Lake. The lawsuit comes more than four years after the Landmine’s special feature, “The bizarre story of Campbell Lake, the private lake that isn’t.”

Nearly three months after the publication of the Landmine’s special feature, the State of Alaska and Municipality of Anchorage issued a joint statement affirming that Campbell Lake is a public lake. The statement also claimed that members of the public could access the lake via two section line easements that cross private property. However, in the years since the joint statement was issued, members of the public have been subjected to harassment from Campbell Lake homeowners and have been discouraged from using the easements to access the lake.

In March, the House Finance Committee appropriated $10,000 for marked access and signage on the public access easements. But the proposal died in the State Senate. The Anchorage Assembly also voted to appropriate money for marked access. But then, two residents filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that the public access easements did not exist. The state filed a motion to dismiss that lawsuit, which will be heard next week.

By filing the new lawsuit today, the state may be attempting to bolster its argument that the validity of state section line easements is a state, rather than federal, matter.

In a press release today from the Department of Law, Attorney General Treg Taylor said, “During recent years the status of Campbell Lake as public water and access to it have caused uncertainty among lakefront property owners and the public. The State is filing this litigation in an attempt to resolve the matter and provide certainty to all affected interests. The objective would be to establish the existence of the easement so we can negotiate a route that minimizes adverse impacts on property owners, yet allows access to a public waterbody.”

Natural Resources Commissioner John Boyle said, “Having the court confirm the validity of the easement will be a positive first step. We intend to vigorously protect Alaskans’ right to access public waters. When the two landowners filed in federal court they were, in effect, trying to overturn decades of established section line easements in Alaska, with potential implications for access to public lands and waters across the state. The Departments of Law and Natural Resources look forward to defending our position that the section line easement at Campbell Lake is valid. We remain open to working with the plaintiffs and others, as we have tried in the past, on negotiating an alternative route for the easement to ensure Campbell Lake’s recreation opportunities are available to all.”

The state’s lawsuit can be viewed here.

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5 months ago

Thank you State of Alaska Department of Law.

Steve Stine
5 months ago

Access is a problem all over the state. In Willow, the DLOA running Deshka Landing just put a fence across a road which connected the subdivision for over 30 years…now lawyers tell us it’s illegal but want $25,000 to start the case. The lawyers are winning in AK and government does nothing to help.

Your mileage may vary
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Stine

well, it appears lawyers are helping in this case. So there is that.

Marc Grober
5 months ago

Now why would a kulture warrior AG purporting to be opposed to government intervention and a defender of private property suddenly grow socialist balls?

Actual credentialed journalist (retired)
5 months ago
Reply to  Marc Grober

As stated, to gird their loins for a fight with the feds

5 months ago

I bet if we start flying in and remained on the water, the noise would cause a very quick resolution.