Greens try to block road serving native Alaskans by suing Trump Administration

After 30 years, residents of King Cove, Alaska, finally won approval for the construction of a road connecting their remote Aleutian fishing village to an all-weather airport, enabling members of the Agdaagux and Belkofski tribes to more quickly reach medical facilities in Anchorage, 600 miles away.

At an emotional January 22 ceremony in Washington, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, on behalf of the Trump Administration, signed an agreement for a land exchange between the federal government and the state of Alaska that will allow construction of a 11-mile-long, single lane gravel road between isolated King Cove and Cold Bay, site of the all-weather airport. The road will go through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge.

“On behalf of the community of King Cove and the many people that have died and suffered, we are so grateful, beyond grateful, to those who have supported us,” said Della Trumble, finance manager of the King Cove Native Corp. (Washington Times, January 23). “This has been a long battle.”

Greens File Lawsuit

And the battle is far from over. Within two weeks of Zinke’s announcement, a coalition of green groups filed a suit in the U.S. District Court in Alaska, arguing that the proposed land swap would violate the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.

“Izembek is one of the most important wildlife refuges on the planet. A road would do irreparable damage that no land swap could begin to heal,” said Randi Spivak, public lands program director at the Center for Biological Diversity (Washington Times, February 11). “Unleashing the bulldozers on this incredible place would destroy vital feeding grounds for millions of migrating birds from three continents.”

Located on the southeastern tip of the Alaska Peninsula, King Cove is subject to the area’s stormy weather that frequently forces the shutdown of the local airstrip. For decades, the village’s roughly 900 residents have had to rely on a hovercraft to transport gravely ill of injured people to Cold Bay. Eighteen deaths have been attributed to lack of swift access to Cold Bay’s all-weather airport. In 2013, the Obama Administration rejected the road project, with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell saying “we owe it to future generations” to avoid running a single-lane road through the wildlife refuge.

But Secretary Zinke left no doubt that the Trump Administration has different priorities. “Previous administrations prioritized birds over human lives, and that’s just wrong.”

The Real Threat to Migratory Birds

Claims by environmentalists that the road would do “irreparable harm” to birds using the Pacific Flyway are belied by the well-documented experience of migratory birds along far more challenging flyways. According to the Audubon Society, more than 325 bird species make the round-trip each year along the Mississippi Flyway, from their breeding grounds in Canada and the northern United States to their wintering grounds along the Gulf of Mexico and in Central and South America. Whooping Cranes, Least Terns, Prothonotary Warblers, and many other species fly over the 130 bridges that cross the river, seven of which are part of the heavily traveled Interstate Highway System, and past such major metropolitan areas as New Orleans, Memphis, St. Louis, and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Yet the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, and their ilk would have the world believe that an 11-mile-long, single-lane gravel road will put birds migrating along the Pacific Flyway in peril. The real threat to migratory and other birds comes from industrial wind farms, which kill hundreds of thousands of birds and bats each year. Yet the horrible toll wind farms take on wildlife is swept under the rug by many of the same environmental groups upset over a gravel road.

In addition to the local tribes, the U.S. Coast Guard also welcomes the road. Over the years, Coast Guard crews have had to step in and evacuate King Cove residents in emergencies.

“This road will provide residents of King Cove safe and reliable access to an airstrip and to commercial medivac services,” Admiral Paul F. Zukunft, U.S. Coast Guard commandant, said in a statement. “It will significantly reduce the risk to our U.S. Coast Guard aircrews are exposed to while operating in one of the U.S. Coast Guard’s most unforgiving environments – Alaska.”

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About the Author: Bonner Cohen, Ph. D.

Bonner Cohen, Ph. D.

Bonner R. Cohen, Ph. D., is a senior policy analyst with CFACT.

26 Comments
    • servo75

      They don’t care for people, period. What people don’t realize is that these far-left groups literally believe that humans are ruining the planet and we need to surrender all modern technology to nature, even if it means our own destruction. They hate modernity, that’s their real agenda.

      • cedamon

        There’s a Tom Clancy novel, “Rainbow Six”, that deals with this very attitude–that humans are a virus infecting the Earth that must be eradicated to save the Earth. Except them, of course. They create a way to survive the elimination of the human race. Check it out. Good read.

      • servo75

        Here’s the quote, I found it from Mark Levin’s Plunder and Deceit:

        “The degrowthers would deindustrialize advanced economies, destroy modernity, and turn plenty into scarcity… Ultimately, for the more fanatical among them, the ultimate purpose is revolution and transformation; the environment is incidental if not extraneous to their central mission, except as a cunning strategem.”

        Levin, Mark R.. Plunder and Deceit: Big Government’s Exploitation of Young People and the Future (Kindle Locations 1384-1388). Threshold Editions. Kindle Edition.

  1. mark

    Screw the Greens! They don’t have to live in isolation as do the Native Alaskans. Force the Greens to live like that! After they lose a few they will have a different perspective!

    • Boogaloo Jones

      It’ll never happen. Since real life doesn’t fit their ideology or computer simulations, the greenies will automatically reject anything close to reality or truth. Besides, they couldn’t live more than a day without their cell phones!

  2. Tom Austin

    While I do not live in King Cove I do live in Alaska and even with the road, which they desperately need, they will still have a single point of failure. In my community we have a road in, an airport and a weekly ferry and can be cut off for 3 to 7 days at a time each winter due to snow and adverse weather in the neck. In King Cove’s case every new way to get to help needs to be given to them and Damn the lower 48 green idiots.

  3. marlene

    The Greens should NOT be able to dictate social policy. They are a minority group compared to the Alaskan citizens who need and support this road. An agreement has been signed by the Interior Secretary which for all intents and purposes, supersedes what the Greens want. There is nothing legal, lawful, or constitutional preventing the state from building the road.

  4. Dan Ulseth

    Since when has a gravel road stopped migratory birds from surviving or thriving? Their argument sounds awfully similar to the dire warnings about the Trans Alaska Pipeline before it was built. None of those fears came true and the caribu have actually thrived with it.

    • Mr. Manfredgensenden

      Right. Thousands of them keep warm from the radiant heat from the pipe with much warmer oil flowing through it. The birds would probably do the same with the warmer gravel rocks heated by the Sun. That’s why there are so many animals run over by cars at night…the animals are sleeping on the warm asphalt.

    • Boogaloo Jones

      If an unobtrusive, single-lane gravel road could [supposedly] have that much impact on migratory birds from three continents, fissures opened up in the ground by earthquakes must be devastating to them!! By the way, Alaska has more earthquakes every year than all the other 49 states combined.

  5. dje3

    Greens? who the hell named them that. There is NOTHING green about anything they say or do. IT is political and profit driven idiocy.

    Who the hell do you think caused the fires in California? IT was the “greens”. For 45 or more years battles have been fought over “forest lands” in California. The native Ca indians KNEW what to do. They BURNED the entire state on average about every 7 years. They cleared the duff. They cleared the underbrush and guess what? The fires would never burn the established trees or forest…just the underbrush and duff….giving the entire forest instant fertilization!

    There was more food and fuel, things grew lusher. It is the Idiots that call themselves “environmentalists” and know NOTHING about the facts or truth that cause these problems. The systems that allows a party that has no local interest to file a suit is a real problem.

  6. Russ Wood

    I haven’t noticed that the TARRED roads through the Kruger Park, South Africa, have impacted on the wildlife. Now, the people who USE them, however…

    • Boogaloo Jones

      Good point. But the thing is that the single-lane gravel road proposed would ONLY be used during emergencies by authorized personnel. That’s written into the King Cove land swap agreement.

  7. Boogaloo Jones

    I live in Interior Alaska, so I know a little something about the Cold Bay fracas and how a single-lane gravel road would supposedly affect the birds there. What the greenies and news media ALWAY fail to mention is that waterfowl hunting – yes, HUNTING – is a big part of tourism and subsistence living in the area. According to the official coldbayalaska.com/hunting web site, “[waterfowl] Daily bag limits are liberal and include: six Canada geese, two black brant, eight puddle ducks, and 15 sea ducks.” So, in theory, every single licensed hunter could take 31 birds PER DAY from September 1 through December 16. If bag limits like that fail to have a negative impact on migratory birds, then WHY are these green leftists so interested in an unobtrusive road?!? We Alaskans are really getting sick of people outside our state telling us how to live!!

  8. pkwz

    The Greens approve of polar bears eating seals to survive. But they don’t approve of Eskimos killing seals to survive. Why the difference? Simple, humans are not part of “Nature”. What’s the difference between bees making beehives, beavers making dams, dogs nesting and the Space Shuttle? The Space Shuttle has more parts.

    But to Greens, environmentalists and Global Warming cult members, humans are the one thing on earth that is inherently evil and bad. Especially White, male, Christian, NRA belonging, conservative humans.

    This effort to block the construction of this emergency road is just despicable. These greens would rather have the people in Cold Bay DIE than build a gravel road in the middle of nowhere!!!! This just proves that humanity never ever seems to improve.

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