Alaska Peninsula Refuge and Wilderness Enhancement Act (S. 1680) ACT NOW!!!!

I need to call to your attention a terrible piece of legislation: a new Alaska road boondoggle called (disingenuously) the Alaska Peninsula Refuge and Wilderness Enhancement Act (S. 1680).  It’s sponsored by the Alaska delegation (Sens. Stevens and Murkowski) and it’s a project in the same league as the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere.”

This is a bill that will harm wilderness, not enhance it. This bad bill should have been a non-starter, but instead it’s just been approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. A companion bill in the House, sponsored by Rep. Don Young, was approved by the Natural Resources Committee last spring.

The bill calls for the removal of protected Wilderness lands from the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in order to construct a road between the two small Alaskan communities of King Cove and Cold Bay . Its sponsors say the road is needed for the health and safety of King Cove residents, but this simply isn’t true. And while the bill’s title sounds harmless, don’t be fooled!

This bill puts the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge at severe risk by proposing to build a road through its biological heart while costing taxpayers millions on yet another Alaska road project.  This is just another example of earmark-hungry Alaska politicians coming back to the public trough. Congress appropriated $37.5 million in 1998 to improve the town of King Cove ‘s access to medical care, but now the town and Alaska ‘s congressional delegation want more. And they’re asking even though the 1998 law that got them their $37.5 million specifically prohibited building a road through the Izembek wilderness.


They’ve waged a relentless lobbying and public relations campaign aimed at convincing Congress to allow a road through the heart of one of Alaska and the world’s most important wildlife refuges.  To push their pet project, King Cove paid almost $250,000 to buy the assistance of Steve Silver, a lobbyist involved in many of Alaska ‘s previous earmarks, according to published news reports.

The bills propose a land swap that would remove Wilderness protection from 206 acres of critical wildlife habitat on a narrow wetland isthmus between the two lagoons in exchange for 61,000 acres of mostly unrelated and non-comparable habitat, some of which could be designated as wilderness.

Protecting Izembek’s wilderness habitat has been a priority of every Administration since Ronald Reagan’s because of what’s at stake. Hundreds of thousands of migratory waterfowl—including nearly all of the world’s populations of approximately 150,000 Pacific black brant and 55,000 Emperor geese—nest, breed, and feed on some of the world’s largest eelgrass beds located in the wetlands between the Izembek and Kinzarof Lagoons. The isthmus also serves as a vital travel corridor for wolves, bears, and caribou.

The King Cove-Cold Bay road project would be extremely costly for taxpayers and is incredibly unnecessary. Furthermore, Congress has already determined that a road through the Izembek Refuge Wilderness would be incompatible with the purposes for which the Refuge was established, a law these proposed bills seek to overturn!

New York Times article.

This was sent to me by The Wilderness Society

Rachel Gurney

Please take action on this everyone!! I will be blogging about this more. Please pass this along!!!


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