Interior department files arguments in Izembek refuge case | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

Current Conditions

9.4°C

Interior department files arguments in Izembek refuge case

March 11, 2020 - 6:07 AM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The federal Department of the Interior has filed arguments in Alaska District Court favouring the completion of an emergency access road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge.

The filing is the latest in an ongoing legal dispute with conservationists over construction of the road, The Alaska Journal of Commerce reported Monday.

Interior department attorneys filed the arguments March 3 in response to a motion for summary judgment sought by a consortium of conservation groups.

The groups sued the department last year to block a land exchange to facilitate construction of the road.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt signed a land swap deal with King Cove Corp. leaders in July after the president of the Native corporation provided a draft agreement.

The refuge is a breeding ground for nearly all of the world’s Pacific black brant geese and home to other rare and threatened waterfowl populations.

Advocates argue the 11-mile (18-kilometre) segment to complete an approximately 30-mile (48-kilometre) road will provide a reliable route for about 800 year-round residents of King Cove to Cold Bay’s airport during medical emergencies.

The state estimates the road would cost about $30 million to build.

In addition to specific issues related to Izembek, opponents stress that allowing a road to be built through areas designated as wilderness by Congress would set a dangerous precedent for public lands nationwide.

The conservation groups argue the overarching purposes of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act and the refuge are conservation and the protection of habitat important to wildlife and local subsistence harvesters.

Interior attorneys counter in their brief that Bernhardt’s duty is to balance multiple interests under the act.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

  • Popular vernon News
View Site in: Desktop | Mobile