WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Lisa Murkowski today reiterated her support for the residents of King Cove, Alaska to win approval of a land trade that will add 61,000 acres of key wildlife habitat to the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. This trade would permit a short road to be built across the edge of the refuge linking King Cove to the all-weather airport at Cold Bay.

“Many residents of King Cove have been stranded in emergency situations, unable to access the airport just across the bay due to inclement weather,” said Senator Murkowski. “The proposed road to the all-weather airport at Cold Bay, through the refuge would be narrow and unobtrusive. I believe that the exchange of 206 acres for a potentially life-saving road for the 61,723 acres the King Cove Corporation and State of Alaska are offering the federal government is more than fair.”

Senator Murkowski introduced S.1680, a bill that allows the land exchange to take place, at the request of the people of King Cove. It directs a land exchange among the State of Alaska, the King Cove Native Corporation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that will enable the construction of a road between the towns of Cold Bay and King Cove. Cold Bay is currently accessible only via watercraft from King Cove, and that from of transport is often impossible given the bay’s treacherous 20-foot seas. The proposed road around the lagoon would only cross seven miles of the existing designated wilderness area. It is being proposed after the hovercraft purchased to provide the service has proven unreliable given mechanical problems in the high seas and significant maintenance costs.

Murkowski said the road is necessary for the health and safety of the people of King Cove, a village with only one nurse practitioner and no hospital or doctor. Della Trumble, president of the King Cove Native Corporation, testified before Congress that since 1979, 11 people have died traveling between King Cove and Cold Bay in bad weather, including a 1980 medevac flight that claimed four lives.