King Cove Residents Elated Following Full Committee Markup Vote on Interior Bill with Road Provision
June 15, 2015
King Cove, AK – June 18, 2015 – King Cove residents are thrilled that Sen. Murkowski’s Interior Appropriations bill, containing a provision to build the King Cove road, has passed a full committee markup vote today.
“This is one more hurdle that we’ve overcome,” said Della Trumble, long-time resident and spokeswoman with the King Cove (Native) Corporation. “We are fired up as this bill gains momentum. The solution to a life-threatening transportation access problem our residents face during medical emergencies may soon be within our reach, thanks to Senator Murkowski.”
“We are grateful that Senator Murkowski has been so passionate about trying to getting a small, non-commercial road connection built for us,” said Agdaagux Tribal president Etta Kuzakin. “There are so many lives that will be saved if Congress ultimately approves it. There are many people in our community, including myself and my daughter, whose lives have been endangered during dangerous medevacs.”
Kuzakin, at 34 weeks of pregnancy, went into early labor in the spring of 2013. Because of harsh weather conditions, she had to rely on the Coast Guard for an emergency medevac. After several attempts, the Coast Guard was finally able to get into King Cove and bring her to an Anchorage hospital where Kuzakin’s daughter was delivered by cesarean section. “She would have died, and I would have, too, because there was no one in our community that could have given me a cesarean section,” said Kuzakin. “Thank goodness the Coast Guard came to our rescue. However, we know this is not part of the U.S. Coast Guard’s regular mission. We understand USGS does these kinds of emergency medevacs on a case-by-case basis. We need this road so we can be assured of a reliable and safe option to get the medical care we need when our lives depend upon it.” “We are so grateful to Senator Murkowski for refusing to give up on this common-sense solution for us,” said King Cove Mayor Henry Mack.“The anguish we feel when medical care is delayed to our loved ones because severe weather prevents us from taking a plane or a boat is hard to describe,” said Mayor Mack. “Since U.S. Interior Secretary Jewell rejected the road, there have been 25 medevacs. It’s frustrating when we know this problem could be easily solved by a road connecting us to the nearby all-weather Cold Bay Airport.”
“We know there’s still a long process ahead, but we’re delighted that it passed the full committee markup today,” said Aleutians East Borough Mayor Stanley Mack. “We’re encouraged, and extremely grateful. We have Senator Murkowski to thank for every step forward we take toward getting our life-saving road.”
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. 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, check out the King Cove road issue fact sheet and visit http://www.aleutianseast.org/ .
Communications Director, Aleutians East Borough
Office: (907) 274-7579; email: email@example.com