As Congress works on legislation that will fund the Federal government in 2016, there is an extraneous rider provision that would undermine important wilderness protections in Alaska. After three years of extensive scientific analysis, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2013 determined that a proposed road through the Alaska’s Izembek National Wildlife Refuge and Wilderness Area should not be built because it would cause irreparable harm to sensitive wildlife habitat and important wetlands.
The village of King Cove is insisting that the road is needed as a means of emergency access to an airport in the nearby village of Cold Bay. But in 1998, Congress invested $37.5 million to help address King Cove’s health and transportation needs, by providing a safe, reliable, and seaworthy hovercraft, upgraded village medical clinics and port terminals.
Alaska’s Izembek National Wildlife Refuge is a national treasure. Hundreds of thousands of migratory birds and waterfowl, seals, sea otters, caribou, wolves and grizzly bears depend on the wetlands, tundra, streams, and tidal areas to reproduce and feed. Almost the entire world’s population of Pacific Black Brant stop at the refuge during their spring and fall migrations to rest and feed on the eelgrass beds.
The Department of the Interior supported sound science and the professional recommendations of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in rejecting this road proposal. Taxpayers have provided a transportation solution and the proposed road would set a terrible precedent for the National Wildlife Refuge System and designated Wilderness Areas all across the nation