Archive for the ‘izembek refuge’ Tag

Gov Parnell Invokes RS 2477 in King Cove Road Controversy   Leave a comment

Why Alaska’s governor plans to use a 150-year-old law to sue the federal government

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2014/04/08/why-alaskas-governor-plans-to-use-a-150-year-old-law-to-sue-the-federal-government/

Izembek National Wildlife Refuge Photo by Kristine Sowl, USFWS,

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell announced Monday that the state plans to sue the federal government over a road, and he plans to use a 150-year-old law to do it.

Residents of King Cove — population 892 — say they need a one-lane gravel road to connect with Cold Bay, a city less than 30 miles away as the crow flies but separated by a famous wildlife refuge. Frequent bad weather often makes flying unfeasible, so the village needs access to Cold Bay’s larger airstrip for emergencies, residents argue. But wildlife advocates say it would hurt what is a world-class habitat—the 315,000-acre Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, home to virtually the entire population of the Pacific black brant as well as other types of birds.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has over several decades argued that such a road would cause “irreversible’ damage to the habitat and reaffirmed that belief most recently in February. Still, some of the residents were in D.C. last month to make their case to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. She stood by the department’s decision not to allow the road, prompting Parnell’s threat of a lawsuit.

“In just the last several weeks, serious health-related evacuations have shown just how critical a road for medical evacuations is for residents,” he said in his  statement Monday, officially providing a 180-day notice of the state’s intent to sue. The suit rests on a 148-year-old mining regulation: Revised Statute 2477 of the Mining Act of 1866. The controversial law was created to promote development of the West, according to a Bureau of Land Management fact sheet.

Black brant over Izembek Lagoon (Izembek National Wildlife Refuge). Photo by K.Mueller/USFWS

It “minimized the administrative burden on the federal government to authorize the construction of each highway across the largely undeveloped lands in the West. However, while the law accomplished its goal of facilitating development of the West, the general wording is a source of disagreement and controversy.”

Revised Statute 2477, which has been interpreted as granting authority to establish roads where informal routes existed, has been a source of controversy for years despite being just 20 words long. (It states: “The right-of-way for the construction of highways over public lands, not reserved for public uses, is hereby granted.”) The statute was repealed in 1976, but the law’s protections were preserved for routes that existed before then.

In a 1993 report, the Interior Department found that most of the controversy arising from the grandfathered protection to that point had come from Utah, but Alaska was also singled out for its unique reliance on R.S. 2477. It was prompted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service preparing land-use plans for refuges and parks there in the mid-1980s.

The proposed road. (Office of Gov. Sean Parnell)

“This federal action precipitated the State of Alaska’s interest in using R.S. 2477 to obtain rights-of-way over federal lands as state and local government in the Lower 48 States had during their own early developmental periods,” the report’s authors wrote. Some claims have been upheld, but the federal government has refused others. In fact, such a refusal to recognize a right-of-way prompted a separate suit last spring, Alaska’s attorney general wrote in his 2013 review:

In April 2013 we filed a lawsuit against the federal government and others to quiet title to a number of rights-of-way near Chicken, Alaska. Alaska acquired these rights-of-way under Revised Statute 2477, but the federal government fails to recognize that grant and has interfered with Alaskans’ right of access. As a state, it is important that we assert our interest in these vital access routes though much work remains to be done.

Ultimately, the fate of the refuge and the road may rest on the courts—which claimed authority to rule on such claims in a 2005 10th Circuit Court Ruling—and how they interpret a 148-year-old, one-sentence statute.

Comments
It said lands not reserved for public use. A national wildlife refuge is “public use”, I believe. Places are usually open to the public, like other national parks.

Instead of hassling the federal government which Republicans have worked to undermine and make sure it doesn’t function at all, how about Alaska help this tiny town build a hospital so that they don’t have to travel far when there’s a serious injury. And if it doesn’t make sense to you to have a hospital that’s closer than 30 miles away in an emergency, then maybe having a new road isn’t your only problem.

Besides, I thought Alaskans were supposed to be so rugged. You don’t need any government roads or roads through government areas. Just cut off the limb or body part and keep on going. Or better yet, join the Iditarod – I’m sure there’ll be a bunch of dogs headed in your general direction at some point.

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Wouldn’t the same “bad weather” that makes a helicopter flight impossible make travel over a gravel road impossible?
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Johnnee
4/8/2014 6:47 PM GMT-0800 [Edited]
Seriously……? You will never go there, see how the people that live there actually live…you reside in some bubble, burn gasoline, turn lights on & off, turn your heat up when you are cold….yet you don’t want anyone to develop a place you will never see or appreciate…..
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stevensp1
3:07 AM GMT-0800
The people you speak of have lived where they live, as they live, for generations. Or they are transplants who chose to move to that isolated post. Why should 850 people have the “right” to endanger the existence of millions of migratory animals on the off chance the one of those people might need an ambulance? Let the State of Alaska purchase airboats to resolve this conflict, or develop alternate means to rescue the injured. A road is not necessary and is not appropriate for a designated wilderness area.
It is hard to understand how a 30 mile dirt road, that would probably get very little traffic, could negatively impact the wildlife in the park.
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stevensp1
3:03 AM GMT-0800
Poachers and Native hunting rights. This road wouild gut the preserve and make it meaningless.
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Sad to say, ” Fat Chance ” I wish Alaska luck on this. Legislation seems needed to protect your rights.
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how_did_THAT_happen
4/8/2014 1:13 PM GMT-0800
What gives the National (not Federal) government the right to land that was paid for by ALL of the citizens of the US? They don’t own it, the people of the US owns it and some crapola that the government may do to make the land off limits is just that – more piles of uncomposted manure.
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NancyESL
4/8/2014 5:10 PM GMT-0800
I also own that land and, if left to people like you, every natural square inch of it would be drilled, fracked and paved over.
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ovocop
10:03 AM GMT-0800
What gives the federal government the right to land paid for by its citizens? I believe that would be the Constitution. Paid for it from Russia with taxpayer money and maintain it with said money, but like with any other federal lands, it manages and owns it (for us). So yes, they do own it. Do you think you *personally* own it?

I think the problem is, a lot of people like you don’t understand how government works. The government pretty much owns all of the land within its borders and whatever land it governs like territories. Eminent domain says so. Banks may hold the deed until you pay off a mortgage on your house, but if the federal government felt it necessary, they could compensate you or the bank and take that land for whatever purpose it deems fit.

Obviously, we get to vote for people who run the government and we pay for maintenance of such lands, so that’s how we control what happens… but other than that, the government owns the land. As you see, even within Alaska, which has a state government, the federal lands are not run by them or owned by them – it’s the federal government that holds this land. They get to decide what happens to it. They must follow what laws are on the books, but use their discretion in deeming fit what purpose the land is used. Obviously, there’s already a use for the land that is observed by the federal government, so this road does not take precedence over that unless they see it as necessary and lawful. They do not.

The Bush Administration has spoiled right-wingers. You believe that our national parks should be paved, drilled, fracked, logged, and mined – because that’s what they allowed. That’s not the purpose of a park. Not local parks, not national parks. The purpose of a park is to just be. It’s supposed to exist for existence sake. 

Alaska to sue Interior Department for road to reach medical aid – Washington Times   Leave a comment

Alaska to sue Interior Department for road to reach medical aid – Washington Times.

Is Alaska’s Sean Parnell growing a backbone?

The more fights like this Alaska has with the federal government, the more (I hope) that people will come to understand that (hopefully, peaceful) secession is our only option. We can maintain cultural and diplomatic ties with the US, but we need to control our own resources and remove the colonial power from our land.

Nothing is standing in the way of this road, but an arbitrary rule written 2500 miles distant from the people it affects by people whose agenda is to keep Alaska under colonial control until such time that they can authorize the rape our resources for their own benefit rather than ours.

It’s our land! Get out!

Alaska’s long road war   Leave a comment

This subject appears to have struck a cord with the American press.

Alaska’s long road war.

Alaskans battle for survival against feds’ protection of migratory birds – Washington Times   Leave a comment

Alaskans battle for survival against feds’ protection of migratory birds – Washington Times.

“There is a safe and an easy way to help our fellow citizens, and the only thing standing in the way is our own federal government’s decision to place a higher value on the birds than it does on the health and the safety of my state’s citizens, and that is simply wrong,” Mrs. Murkowski said Wednesday at an Appropriations Committee hearing.

Federal Rejection of Refuge Road Emblematic of Alaska’s Colonial Status   2 comments

Alaskan outrage grows as the need for the King Cove to Cold Bay road through the Izembek Refuge nearly cost of the life a 63-year-old resident of that Alaskan village.

It’s ironic that the president administration that bet its legacy on health care insurance coverage for all would then turn around and deny the most basic access (transportation), but that’s what we have right now.

I’m no fan of Lisa Murkowski, but she got a cheer from my family last night when, on national television, she said she wouldn’t object or stand in the way of King Cove residents who decide they have had enough and opt for “civil disobedience” in this case. The work on the road to Tanana illustrates that the villagers need not wait for permission to start building the road.

Federal lands belong to the people and the people of Alaska have too long acquiesced to the demands of a distant, uninterested and tyrannyical government. If the people of King Cove take their chainsaws into the refuge this summer and start clearing a pioneer road, Alaskans will be with them in spirit and some may join them in truth.

Environmental groups bitterly oppose a one-lane road that would be accessed only by King Cove residents for these sorts of emergencies. In 1997, Congress appropriated $37.5 million for water access to Cold Bay, including a $9 million hovercraft. They say that should be enough. The problem is that hovercraft do not work in high seas — well, actually, they don’t work on anything but placid seas. The Cold Bay area gets gale force winds on regular occasions. It is against federal law to fly helicopters over refuge lands. When the seas proved too dangerous to sealift the sick villager, a Coast Guard cutter moved in as close as possible and dispatched a helicopter, endangering the lives of everyone on board. Needed care was delayed for several hours and the patient was reported in critical condition yesterday.

The only thing standing in the way of a road is a federal government that believes it must protect Alaska from Alaskans, that we cannot be trusted to be good stewards of the land we love and have raised our children to honor and respect. Pretty birds remain more important than people to the Obama administration. 

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell’s decision is emblematic of Alaska’s colonial relationship with the federal government. In October, Alaska will have been a state for 55 years. We have the most stringent state environmental laws and regulations of the 50 states, although not nearly as complicated as California’s. What exactly must we do to prove that we care about our state’s environment at least as much as people who do not live here think they do? When exactly can we be trusted to act like a grown-up state?

If the answer is that we can never be trusted, then maybe we should take steps to reevaluate this relationship.

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