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Interior Secretary Sally Jewell Will Visit King Cove on Friday

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior will visit King Cove and Cold Bay Friday to gather information about the proposed road between the 2 communities. Back in February the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a final Environmental Impact Statement evaluating the proposed land exchange that would allow a one-lane gravel road to be built between King Cove and Cold Bay through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. The preferred alternative in the EIS was to not allow the land exchange to go forward. That’s still the position of the Fish and Wildlife Service but the Interior Department, which houses the Fish and Wildlife Service, decided to conduct an additional review. That review is the reason for Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s visit to the communities on Friday. Jewell will be joined by Alaska’s Senior U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski who has repeatedly spoken out in opposition to the decision by the Fish and Wildlife Service not to allow the land exchange to go forward. Alaska’s Congressional delegation, many residents in the region, and the administration of Alaska Governor Sean Parnell want the Fish and Wildlife Service to reverse course and allow the 3-way land exchange that would facilitate construction of what is characterized as an emergency access road between King Cove and the all-weather runway in Cold Bay. Bad weather often makes it difficult to get airplanes into and out of King Cove, which can make it challenging for area residents seeking emergency medical care. The Aleutians East Borough claims that at least 19-deaths have been attributed to the lack of a land route between King Cove and Cold Bay. The King Cove Airport is reportedly closed on average 100-day’s a year while Cold Bay has a 10-thousand foot, all-weather runway with an instrument approach system. The runway was built during World War 2. As part of Interior Secretary Jewell’s trip a public meeting will be held Friday in King Cove. She’s also scheduled to tour the community and visit the local health clinic. The effort to get a road built between King Cove and Cold Bay dates back well over 30-years. The visit to the Alaska Peninsula is just the start of Sally Jewell’s visit to Alaska. Over the weekend she’s scheduled to travel with Senator Mark Begich to the North Slope and the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. A press release from the Department of the Interior notes that the Secretary is schedule to spend on night in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

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