Alaska’s Izembek wilderness is a political hostage

A proposed road through Izembek National Wildlife Refuge would pass through globally important habitat for migratory waterfowl.

U.S. Fish $ Wildlife Service

Alaska’s Izembek National Wildlife Refuge has become a political hostage. After years of study and analysis, the U.S. Department of the Interior recently decided that sacrificing wilderness and building a road through Izembek was a bad idea.

But Alaska’s Sen. Lisa Murkowski refused to accept that decision. She and residents of the tiny community of King Cove are fighting to have the decision overturned.

By threatening to block the confirmation of Sally Jewell as the new Secretary of Interior, Murkowski pressured the Interior Department into reviewing the process that led to the no-road ruling. We need you to urge Interior to stand strong and uphold its original decision.

Izembek is in a remote location near the end of the Alaska Peninsula in the southwestern part of the state, near the spot where the Aleutian Islands begin. Caribou and other wildlife thrives in Izembek’s wilderness, which provides world-class habitat for brown bears and is globally significant for waterfowl.

Virtually all Pacific black brant and emperor geese rely on this area to rest and feed during seasonal migrations, but the proposed road would cut through the biological heart of Izembek, causing irreparable harm to pristine habitat.

Murkowski and other proponents of the road claim it is necessary to transport medical patients to an airport in the nearby community of Cold Bay during emergencies. But that’s not the real reason they want a road. After all, why would you want to build a road that would require an ambulance trip of nearly two hours, when you already have an ambulance-hauling hovercraft that can get you to the airport in 20 minutes?

Taxpayers already spent $37.5 million to buy the hovercraft and build related infrastructure, but Lisa Murkowski now wants the government to spend millions more on a road that will not get people to Cold Bay faster, but likely would benefit business such as seafood processors. It’s an $80 million boondoggle project disguised as a “lifesaving” cause.

Please act now to let the Interior Department know that you support the protection of Alaska wilderness. Izembek is too important to be a hostage to politics.