Wednesday, October 2, 2013

No Deadline for King Cove Road Decision

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says she will weigh all the facts carefully, in the aftermath of her visit to Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, before making a decision on allowing a road through the refuge to connect an Alaska fishing village with an all weather airport at Cold Bay. Jewell said at a news conference in Anchorage on Sept. 3 that there have been efforts to talk about a trade-off between human safety and wildlife and the reality is we want both.”

She gave no promises of when her decision would come, saying only “when I’m ready to make a decision, I’ll make one.” Residents of King Cove, an Alaska Peninsula fishing community that is home to a 100-year-old Peter Pan seafood processing plant, have lobbied for years for a road between their community and the all-weather airport at Cold Bay, which gives them access in medical emergencies to save lives. The single lane road would wind through a portion of Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, a plan that many environmentalist groups strongly oppose. Alaska’s congressional delegation and Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell support the road plan, which would require the federal government to trade 206 acres of refuge and another 1,600 acres from another refuge, in return for which the government would receive 43,093 acres of state land and another 13,300 acres owned by the King Cove Corp., the Alaska Native village corporation serving that community.

Jewell also spoke at length during the news conference about climate change and offshore oil and gas exploration issues and the more than 400 new topographic maps released by the US Geological Survey, which are now available for Alaska. The digital maps, which can be downloaded off a government Internet site,,

Maps that Jewell said will help people understand climate change and see changes in water, erosion and vulnerable cultural sites.

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