King Cove Leaders Laud Senator Murkowski’s Work on Interior Bill Protecting Human Health and Safety
June 16, 2015
King Cove, AK – June 16, 2015 – King Cove Tribal and community leaders are commending Senator Lisa Murkowski today for her hard work on an Interior bill allowing a land transfer and road construction between the remote community of King Cove and the Cold Bay Airport. The life-saving road link would provide much-needed access for emergency health care when harsh weather makes travel by air or boat dangerous and sometimes impossible.
“We want to express our heartfelt gratitude to Senator Murkowski,” said Della Trumble, spokeswoman for the King Cove (Native) Corporation. “This bill is so encouraging and helps keep the fight in the fight. We won’t give up until we have this road so our people can have reliable and safe access to the Cold Bay Airport.”
The legislation, drafted by Murkowski, was approved today by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies. The bill’s provision would direct an equal-value land transfer for the short, single-lane, non-commercial road between King Cove and the nearby all-weather Cold Bay Airport.
“This is about protecting the lives of human beings,” said Aleutians East Borough Mayor Stanley Mack. “There’s nothing that’s more important than that. Our weather can often be severe. That means patients needing emergency care often have to wait hours or even days before they can access an Anchorage hospital. The solution to our problem is so simple – a road connecting us to a nearby airport.”
Since Interior Sally Jewell rejected the land transfer and road connection in December of 2014, there have been 25 medevacs from King Cove. “Twenty-five lives have been endangered because of Secretary Jewell’s decision,” said King Cove Mayor Henry Mack. “That doesn’t include the lives of the Coast Guard personnel who assisted in seven of those medevacs. Senator Murkowski never gave up. She has been our champion, and we are so very grateful for her help.”
“On a clear day, we can see the all-weather Cold Bay Airport from King Cove,” said Trumble. “It’s so close, it’s like we can almost touch it. Senator Murkowski’s legislation makes us feel as if we’re that much closer to having our dream of safe access come true. We can’t thank the Senator enough for her unwavering support for the people of King Cove.”
The people of King Cove have battled for more than three decades to get a life-saving road corridor linking the isolated community to the all-weather Cold Bay Airport, located just 25 miles away. The small stretch of road needed (approximately 11 miles) would connect to existing roads in the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. The road would provide reliable and safe transportation to medevac seriously ill or injured patients during frequent periods of harsh weather when travel by plane or boat is too dangerous.
In 2009, Congress and the President approved the road and a massive land swap (61,000 acres from the State and the King Cove Corporation) in exchange for a small single-lane gravel road corridor to the nearby all-weather Cold Bay Airport. Following an environmental impact statement, which King Cove residents believe is biased, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell rejected the road and land exchange on Dec. 23, 2013. On June 4, 2014, King Cove tribes, the corporation, the city and the Aleutians East Borough sued Jewell and other federal officials over the EIS and the road issue.
For more information, visit http://www.aleutianseast.org/ .
Communications Director, Aleutians East Borough
Office: (907) 274-7579
Cell: (907) 947-5778