King Cove Tribal, Community Leaders Praise Favorable Decision by Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

March 16, 2022

King Cove Tribal and Community leaders are grateful to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for its decision today. The ruling affirms then-Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s decision and legal authority to approve the proposed land exchange.

“We agree and, we’re very happy about the decision,” said King Cove Corporation spokeswoman and Agdaagux Tribal member Della Trumble. “We will continue to work diligently to execute that decision.”

“This means so much to the community of King Cove,” said King Cove Mayor Warren Wilson. “We also want to thank the Alaska Delegation, the State of Alaska, the Governor and his three predecessors as well as the Alaska Legislature for its strong support of this land exchange.”

“We also would like to thank the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Justice Department for its strong support in this litigation and look forward to future support as necessary,” said Aleutians East Borough Mayor Alvin Osterback.

The case must still go back to U.S. District Judge John Sedwick to determine two undecided issues: NEPA and Endangered Species Applicability.

Background: The communities of King Cove and Cold Bay were separated in 1980 when President Carter – without consulting local residents – created the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. King Cove’s roughly 1,000 residents have been trying to reestablish access ever since.

In the ensuing years, 18 deaths have been associated with the lack of land access, either due to plane crashes or an inability to reach timely medical treatment.