Assistant Secretary of Interior Visits King Cove
August 12, 2010
King Cove, AK – Aug. 12, 2010 – Tom Strickland, Assistant Secretary of the Department of the Interior, visited King Cove on August 7, 2010, to get a first-hand look at the transportation access problems facing this remote Alaskan community. Currently, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is conducting an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) focusing on a land exchange and proposed road leading from King Cove through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge to the Cold Bay airport. The road would provide safe and reliable transportation to the airport and the outside world for health and quality-of-life reasons. After the EIS is completed, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will determine whether the proposed road and land exchange are in the public interest.
“We are so happy that Mr. Strickland took the time to visit our community,” said King Cove Mayor Henry Mack. “It’s critical for the Interior Secretary to understand how difficult travel to and from King Cove can be during severe and unpredictable weather,” said King Cove Mayor Henry Mack. “The King Cove residents deserve safe and dependable transportation, just like other Americans.”
Mr. Strickland was accompanied by Assistant Regional Director Gary Edwards; Melissa Koenigsberg, Assistant to Tom Strickland; Izembek National Wildlife Refuge Manager Nancy Hoffman and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Pilot Kevin Fox. King Cove Mayor Henry Mack, Aleutians East Borough Mayor Stanley Mack, Agdaagux Tribe of King Cove President Etta Kuzakin and Della Trumble, representing the King Cove Corporation/Agdaagux Tribe of King Cove, met Mr. Strickland’s plane and gave the party a tour.
Local and traveling dignitaries went from the airport to the hovercraft site to visit and become familiar with the hovercraft. The party then went directly to town for a tour of the King Cove Clinic. During the ride to the Clinic, visibility was poor and the tour participants were unable to see the Bay or mountains, the harbor or the town until they were within 200 feet.
Marilyn Mack guided the visitors through the Clinic. A stop at the King Cove School was precluded when the pilot checked the weather and determined it was best to go back to the airport. As tour participants left the Clinic, the visibility improved somewhat, providing a better view of the community. The group stopped by the City of King Cove office, hurriedly filled plates of food, drove to the airport and flew to Cold Bay.
Local officials had originally planned a get together with elders and community officials at 6:00 p.m. That meeting went as planned with members of the community but without the guests.
“We are thankful that the Assistant Secretary was able to visit our community even though the weather was not cooperative,” said Della Trumble, who represented the King Cove Corporation and the Agdaagux Tribe of King Cove.
“This visit will provide the Interior Secretary with a better understanding of the significance of the proposed road corridor from King Cove to Cold Bay,” said Aleutians East Borough Mayor Stanley Mack. “The small (206-acre) road corridor would be a life-saving transportation link for our residents. And it would give the federal government an unprecedented amount of land (61,000 acres) in return.”
“Members of this community thank the Secretary of the Interior for this much-appreciated visit,” Trumble added.