A road through the heart of Izembek refuge would destroywilderness values and significantly impact wildlife.
Izembek National Wildlife Refuge
High Costs, Significant Losses:
Proposed Road Doesn’t Make Sense
In 1998, Congress passed a law specifically prohibiting a road through designated Wilderness in the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. Despite this prohibition, Congress approved a bill in 2009 (P.L. 111-11, the OmnibusPublic Land Management Act) that began a process to review a proposed
road through Izembek’s
federally protected Wilderness. The proposed road would have been accomplished through a land exchange that wouldadd some 56,393 acres of non-federal land to the refuge, in exchange for the removal of 206 acres fromWilderness designation in order to build a gravel road from King Cove to Cold Bay.The land exchange has been portrayed by itssupporters as a positive proposal, both for theKing Cove residents who say it would providesafe, dependable access to the Cold Bay airport,and for the Izembek refuge. However, theexchange lands would add no substantial valueto the refuge, while the road would cut through
the refuge’s ecological heart, reducing the value
of critical habitat for the very species the refugewas established to protect. At the same time, theroad would cost taxpayers tens-of-millionswithout improving the speed or safety of existingtransportation or access to medical facilities andthe outside world. Congress has already helpedfinance a more cost-effective mode of transport between King Cove and Cold Bay
a state-of-the-art marine hovercraft-ferry system thatcarried a fully staffed ambulance from KingCove to Cold Bay in as little as 20 minutes in virtually all kinds of weather..The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced their preferred alternative regarding this proposal andrejected the road, determining it is not in the public interest. A road would have incurred significant costs towildlife, costs to taxpayers, and potential costs to the integrity and protected status of Wilderness landsthroughout the nation while not increasing the speed or efficiency of travel to medical facilities.
Costs to Wildlife
In addition to spectacular scenery, and world-renowned bear habitat, Izembek National Wildlife Refugesupports virtually the entire Pacific Flyway black brant population each spring and fall when these birds gather to rest and feed during migration. T
he refuge is also heavily used by the Steller’s eider, a species listed as
Threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and by hundreds of thousands of other migratory birdswhose habitat around the world is dwindling, including emperor geese, tundra swans, cackling Canada geese,rock sandpipers, and dunlins. Other rare species found in the refuge include caribou, a population of sea otterslisted as threatened under ESA, and the Steller sea lion, which is also threatened. In recognition of itssignificance for birds in particular, Izembek Lagoon was designated in 1987 during the Reagan Administration