A Biden administration nominee says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is likely to allow a road corridor survey in the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge this summer.
The road would connect King Cove to Cold Bay, which residents say could save lives in a medical emergency. Cold Bay has a massive runway where pilots can land under instrument flight rules, while weather often impedes access to King Cove.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski raised the subject Tuesday at the confirmation hearing of Shannon Estenoz to be assistant Interior secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Murkowski said the state of Alaska needs a green light soon to get the work done during the summer field season. Estenoz suggested it was possible.
“Fish and Wildlife is processing that special use permit. I think that there’s every intention to issue it,” Estenoz said.
The road has been a goal of the Alaska delegation in Congress for decades. Democratic administrations tend to side with environmental groups, who argue a road would damage valuable habitat in a wilderness area designated for the highest level of federal protection.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has agreed to meet with the people of King Cove to discuss it.