With the passage of P.L. 111-11 (the Omnibus Public Land Management Act) Congress initiated a process to review a proposed road through the heart of the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, as well as a potential land exchange. If approved, the road would have sacrificed 206 acres of high-quality federally designated Wilderness lands in exchange for 56,393 acres of far less valuable non-federal lands in and adjacent to the refuge. This exchange would have sacrificed quality habitat for a greater quantity of acres. It was not a fair exchange, and was rejected.
Although 45,000 acres of the proposed exchange lands could potentially be designated as Wilderness, those lands do not provide habitat comparable to that which is currently protected as Wilderness. No amount of additional acreage could have compensated for the loss of the world-class resources found only in Izembek’s lagoon complex.