Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Survey to Determine Path for King Cove Road

The Alaska Department of Transportation, armed with a federal permit to proceed, plans to complete by mid-July a survey to determine the route of least environmental impact for an emergency medical ground route between King Cove and the Cold Bay airport.

Residents of King Cove, home of year-round Peter Pan Seafoods processing plant, have been lobbying for 35 years for a road connection to the all weather airport at Cold Bay, to transport people facing medical emergencies to hospitals in Anchorage.

Environmental entities, including The Wilderness Society, oppose the road claiming that it would have an adverse impact on wildfowl habitat in the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge.

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker announced the initial steps to build the road on June 26, after learning that the Interior Department had issued the permit to survey. Walker said that for far too long King Cove residents facing medical emergencies had had to brave harsh weather conditions just to get health care. At times they have had to travel by boat or helicopter in inclement weather just to access the Cold Bay airport to be medevaced out, he said. At the King Cove Corp., the Alaska Native village corporation in this Aleutian fishing community, finance manager Della Trumble said that while it’s still not a done deal, it is a step in the right direction and they remain hopeful.

The Wilderness Society, contending that the road is really for commercial and socioeconomic opportunity, said it would fight what spokeswoman Nicole Whittington-Evans called “the Trump administration’s assault on America’s public lands.”

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