Keeping a Road Out of Alaskan Wilderness This Fall

Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by USFWS.

The unique wildlands and wildlife of the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge are threatened by a proposed road that would cut through its heart.

A bill (S. 1680) to de-designate federally protected Wilderness in order to build a road through the heart of the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska is dangerously close to final approval by Congress. This very bad bill is part of a package of public lands bills that Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) plans to bring before the Senate for a vote in mid November. We are working hard to get the Senate to strike the Izembek bill from the package.

The Izembek road bill will fragment and permanently impair globally significant wetlands, and this proposal should be removed from a package of bills that otherwise would enhance the protection of public lands. 

  • The road is unnecessary: King Cove’s problems safely reaching Cold Bay in an emergency were solved in 1998, when Congress passed the King Cove Health and Safety Act in order to provide the community with advanced telemedicine capabilities and a $9 million sea-worthy hovercraft.
  • It is harmful to globally significant resources. The internationally significant wetlands complex through which the road would be built is a critically important habitat for hundreds of thousands of migrating fauna. There is no comparable habitat anywhere else in the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge or in the proposed exchange lands that would make up for the loss of the Wilderness lands found in this wetlands complex.
  • Finally, the road is hugely expensive to taxpayers. Even though there is not a 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.