Alex Slippen, Communications Associate
This week, the Department of the Interior signaled its preferred alternative to deny a request to build a road through remote wilderness areas of Alaska’s Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. The nearby city of King Cove, Alaska (pop. 938) had been advocating building a road that would connect King Cove to Cold Bay, Alaska, a move conservation organizations feared would severely damage the refuge and set a horrible precedent for future wilderness refuge management decisions. Interior secretary Ken Salazar has 30 days to make the final determination that the road is not in the public interest to block a land exchange that would have facilitated its construction.
Our president, Jamie Rappaport Clark, had this to say about the decision:
“The Department of the Interior was faced with a very difficult decision to make on the proposed Izembek road, but ultimately it has made the correct one given the wildlife and wilderness resources at stake.
The proposed road would have significantly damaged an ecologically sensitive and critical part of the refuge that migratory species like the Pacific Black Brant depend upon. It also would have set a dangerous precedent for the future of wildlife refuge and wilderness area management across the country.
Secretary Salazar takes his responsibilities for the Alaskan Native community very seriously, but in this case he was not persuaded that building a road through a wilderness refuge was the best solution to a difficult problem. National wildlife refuges are special places we as a nation have set aside as safe havens for wildlife. The Interior department has made a responsible choice to protect the integrity of the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge and the wildlife refuge system as a whole.”
Want to learn more about how Defenders works to protect national wildlife refuges? Click here.