Ahtna, State Settle Old Kotsina Lawsuit

Published October 2017

Ahtna has settled a land use issue with the State over the Kotsina River delta, a popular subsistence fishing site.

The agreement clarifies ownership of the Kotsina River delta and gives Ahtna an easement to access its land on the north side of the river and to maintain protective dikes.

“I think it’s a good deal,” said Nicholas Jackson, Ahtna’s chairman.

The settlement, which stems from a lawsuit Ahtna filed in 2008, will ensure continued public access to the shore lands of the Copper and Kotsina rivers in the future, said Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth.

“It has always been the state’s position that the Kotsina River is navigable in this area,” Lindemuth said.

The 2008 lawsuit challenged a state Department of Transportation (DOT) material site and sought to prohibit camping and launching of boats within a DOT right-of-way.

Ahtna and the State have now agreed that the Kotsina River is navigable-in-fact from its confluence with the Copper River upstream eight river miles, and this is reflected in the settlement agreement. Other terms within the settlement agreement include:

  • DNR will grant Ahtna two easements to provide access to Ahtna property on the other side of the river and to build dikes to protect its access routes;
  • Fixed boundaries defining ownership of the delta;
  • 
Continued access to the fish wheels on state-owned land;
  • Ahtna will grant DOT easements to build and maintain dikes to protect the right-of-way, material site, and public access;
  • Ahtna will not appeal two prior court orders in favor of the State.