Feds likely to permit survey work for King Cove road, nominee says

Frosty Creek, Izembek National Wildlife Refuge.
Frosty Creek, Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. (Public Domain photo by Kristine Sowl/ Alaska Region U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.)

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 runway at the Alaska Peninsula village of Cold Bay is long enough for jets to land — unlike the airstrip at the nearby fishing town of King Cove.
The runway at Cold Bay in 2007. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

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.

Shannon Estenoz is nominated to be the assistant Interior secretary in charge of the Fish & Wildlife Service and the Park Service

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.

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