A coalition of environmental and conservation groups today filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of a land exchange between the U.S. Department of the Interior and the King Cove Corporation. The exchange is intended to facilitate the construction of a road through Izembek National Wildlife Refuge and its designated wilderness area. The Wilderness Society released the following statement from Alaska Regional Director Nicole Whittington-Evans.
"The Trump administration’s backroom deal for a land exchange ignores Interior’s previous science-based decisions against the proposed road. This illegal deal is just another step toward the administration’s goal of turning over America’s public lands to development interests.
“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has determined that viable non-road alternatives exist to meet the community’s needs while protecting a globally important refuge and its wildlife. Americans cannot stand by and allow their public lands to be plundered, and we’re going to court to block the land exchange and the boondoggle road project.”
Construction of the road would set a dangerous precedent endangering refuges and wilderness areas across the nation, and undermine multiple bedrock environmental and conservation laws including the Wilderness Act, National Environmental Policy Act, National Wildlife Refuge Improvement Act and Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.
Parties to the lawsuit are represented by the environmental law firm Trustees for Alaska and include Alaska Wilderness League; Audubon Alaska; the Center for Biological Diversity; Defenders of Wildlife; Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges; the National Wildlife Refuge Association; Sierra Club; The Wilderness Society; and Wilderness Watch.
The Wilderness Society is the leading conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. Founded in 1935, and now with more than one million members and supporters, The Wilderness Society has led the effort to permanently protect 109 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands. www.wilderness.org.