Enviros Sue To Stop Construction of Road That Would Save Human Lives

Environmentalists are suing the Trump administration to stop a proposed road connecting an isolated Alaskan community from the area’s only all-weather airport, Anchorage Daily News reports.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke approved a land swap Jan. 22 trading 500 acres of federally protected wilderness for one acre from King Cove, Alaska. Friends of Alaska Wildlife Refuges and eight other environmental groups sued Zinke, the Department of the Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wednesday to kill the deal.

“Congress said that you can have a road through these areas and here’s how you get it — not by trading lands away but by going through these specific steps,” Trustees for Alaska attorney Katie Strong told Anchorage Daily News. “If they can trade away land any time a development project comes along, none of Alaska’s public lands are safe under this administration.”

King Cove officials have asked for 500 acres running through Izembek National Wildlife Refuge to build an 11-mile road connecting their community to the Cold Bay airport for decades, referencing the town’s need for a land route to the airport in case of emergencies. At least 18 people have died in less than four decades because King Cove lacks a reliable route to the airport during severe weather.

King Cove’s only medical facility is a small clinic with no full-time doctor. For serious injuries and other operations, like child delivery, residents must fly to Anchorage, more than 600 miles away.

The Izembek National Wildlife Refuge houses habitat for grizzly bears, caribou, salmon and, for a time every year, nearly every Pacific black brant goose in the world. Opponents of the road say it would disturb ecological balance of the reserve and could have severe effects on the birds.

Former President Barack Obama’s administration denied the petition to for the road in December 2013. Then-Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the road would cause “irreversible damage” to the refuge and wildlife.

The Alaskan community has relied on ships, medevacs, a hovercraft and a small airport to shuttle people to Cold Bay. Nothing has been reliable or sustainable, however, due to Alaska’s extreme weather and the high cost of operating machines like a hovercraft.

Since 2013, 68 medevacs have evacuated King Cove residents to the airport for life-threatening injuries or other immediate medical needs. Because the community is isolated, each medevac costs U.S. taxpayers as much as $210,000 a trip.

“This is a lifeline to this community and it allows us to provide many more search and rescue operations for sick and injured personnel in this particularly weather-challenged, remote environment,” Adm. Paul F. Zukunft, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, said at a press conference held after Zinke signed the deal.

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Comments (6)

  • Avatar

    Spurwing Plover

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    The results of Deep Ecology where human needs are consitered less important then those of the needs of inanimate trees and rocks and wild creatures and the Demac-Rats are in league with these Eco-Freaks and the Freaks of the Alaska Wildlife Refuge more proof that Ecology is a dangerous new age pagan religion

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    MCPR

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    Just tell the “Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything” croud that the road would serve some illegal aliens. They’ll have a road built in a week. Alaskan Citizens are not nearly important enough.

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    Amber

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    As a show of good faith why haven’t all the eco- anarchists given up fossil fuel use ? Build the bloody road .

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    R. Johnson

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    The eco-lunatics will not win this lawsuit; their obstructionist methods have revealed a heartless attitude toward human life.

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  • Avatar

    Spurwing Plover

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    These Eco-Freaks Granola Bar munching Tree Hugging Back to Nature wackos all need to be stranded in the wilderness for a month without shelter and without food(No Veggies or Granola Bars)and many of these Eco Radical Lunatics are hypotcrites as well we used to have one of those Eco-Freak groups in our town they disbanded in 2001 after they had with water to the Klamth Basin Farmers cut off over some stupid fish their leader lived in a Log Home and had a 2nd Home with a Wood Burning Water Heater and the HQ was made from wood with a dumb wooden fish shaped sign

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  • Avatar

    Spurwing Plover

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    HUMAN HEALTH AND HUMAN HAPPINESS IS NOT AS IMPORTANT AS A WILD AND HEALTHY PLANET, DAVID M. GRABER

    Reply

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