Murkowski, Sullivan Commend House Passage of King Cove Legislation

U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, both R-Alaska, today released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 218, legislation to authorize a land exchange needed to construct a short road between the isolated communities of King Cove and Cold Bay, Alaska. H.R. 218 was introduced and championed by Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, and passed the House with bipartisan support from 248 members.

“I commend Congressman Young for his leadership and for bringing a life-saving road for the people of King Cove one step closer to reality,” Murkowski said. “After years of needless suffering, including 63 medevacs since December 2013 alone, I am grateful to have bipartisan support in Congress and – finally - an administration that understands why a road is the best and only option to truly protect the health and safety of local residents.”

"The federal government has for years been telling the people of King Cove that protecting birds is more important than their health and safety,” Sullivan said. “This is unconscionable. I thank Congressman Don Young for his fierce determination to get this bill passed in the House, and will work with Senator Lisa Murkowski to pass it in the Senate. The residents of King Cove deserve nothing less.”

King Cove 1

A plane crash in King Cove in April 2010. A total of 18 people have died in plane crashes or waiting to be medevaced from King Cove since the creation of the Izembek refuge in 1980.

H.R. 218 is identical to S. 101, Murkowski and Sullivan’s King Cove Road Land Exchange Act. The bills facilitate an equal value land exchange between the State of Alaska and the federal government for a 206-acre land road corridor. The corridor would account for just 0.06 percent of the 315,000-acre Izembek National Wildlife Refuge and is needed to facilitate an 11-mile, gravel, one-lane road segment that will connect two existing roads within and outside of the refuge.

Once constructed, the road will link King Cove to the all-weather airport in nearby Cold Bay and will provide local residents with reliable access to emergency medical transportation. Without the road, local residents have endured 63 medevacs, including 17 by the U.S. Coast Guard, just since former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell callously rejected the life-saving road.

King Cove 2

Roads already exist in several parts of the Izembek refuge, and have had no negative effect on

local bird or wildlife populations.

King Cove is located between two volcanic mountains near the end of the Alaska Peninsula, about 625 miles southwest of Anchorage. The small gravel airstrip in King Cove is typically closed by bad weather for more than 100 days each year. Nearly 40 percent of the flights not canceled are impacted or delayed by wind, turbulence, fog, rain, or snow squalls. By comparison, the all-weather airport in Cold Bay, which is less than 30 miles away from King Cove, is home to the fifth-longest runway in the state and closed an average of 10 days per year.