Izembek National Wildlife Refuge

A vast area of glistening lagoons and wetlands punctuated by jagged mountains and volcanic peaks, Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska is critical habitat for hundreds of thousands of migratory birds, as well as marine mammals, grizzlies and caribou. But Congress is considering a bill that would result in a road being built through the heart of this refuge, destroying the intact watershed the animals depend on for survival.

A vast area of glistening lakes and wetlands, punctuated by jagged mountains and volcanic peaks, Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska is critical habitat for hundreds of thousands of migratory birds, as well as marine mammals, grizzlies and caribou.

The road would cut through wetlands that provide critical habitat for hundreds of thousands of the world’s migratory birds, including nearly all the world’s Pacific black brant and Emperor geese. The narrow neck of land where the road would be built is an important nesting area for tundra swans, and is a migration corridor for caribou and grizzly bears. The road is simply unnecessary and would not provide safer or more efficient transportation.

Supporters claim it is needed for the “health and safety” of King Cove’s residents. The truth is that Congress already addressed these issues when it passed the King Cove Health and Safety Act of 1998 and appropriated $37.5 million to improve King Cove’s medical clinic, purchase a state-of-the-art hovercraft, build a hovercraft terminal, and build a road to reach the terminal. The hovercraft is working, safely and efficiently, meeting every emergency evacuation need since it began operations last year.

Even so, King Cove is now back asking for more. The proposed road would be expensive. Even though there is no specific appropriation attached to S. 1680, there is little doubt that U.S. taxpayers will be asked to pay again—probably many millions more dollars—to construct and maintain this unnecessary road.

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