Archive for the ‘king cove road’ Tag

“No Road” argument has wrong priorities   Leave a comment

This letter to the editor from the Alaska Dispatch News does an excellent job of explaining why Alaskans won’t “get over” the King Cove road.

“No road” argument has wrong priorities

I am getting tired of listening to idiots expound on connecting King Cove to the airport at Cold Bay. I have made many trips to King Cove, many more to Cold Bay.

The issue is, of course, the impact on the migratory waterfowl in the Izembek  Refuge of a road linking Cold Bay with King Cove. There has existed for about 70 years an extensive road system in and about the Izembek Refuge. This began in 1942, when the Cold Bay airport was built, and expanded as the military installation Fort Randall was built.

There are miles  of gravel roads in this area. I know, I have driven on them hunting geese and ptarmigan. In 1945, a massive training program, “Project Hula,” existed at Cold Bay. At any given time, there were at least 1,500 troops on site participating.  In subsequent years there was a small USAF facility at Cold Bay.  The geese didn’t seem to be affected by this level of activity, which was probably a hundredfold over and above what occurs today.

I lost a very good friend in the crash of a Beech KingAir at King Cove a number of years ago. It can be a very dangerous airport due limited visibility, low ceiling and ferocious wind all at the same time.

This “no road” argument has no reasonable basis.  Geese, minimal to no impact; people of King Cove, potentially major impact.

Where are your priorities?

— Mike Koskovich

Posted July 29, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Alaska

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Get Over It, Alaska????   Leave a comment

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell apparently felt it was appropriate to tell Alaskans to “get over” the idea of building an 11-mile single-lane gravel road from Cold Bay to King Cove to provide emergency transfer when the seas are too rough for boat transfer of residents needing hospitalization.


Interior Secretary Jewell wishes Alaskans would “get over’ King Cove road

Anchorage blogger Amanda Coyne picked it up, but almost nobody else did.

Folks, this is highly indicative of the attitude that the Obama Administration has toward the entire country, but most especially if it is rural or owns resources.

We should just “get over” the idea that a functional economy requires things like pipelines and roads, mines and refineries, electricity and home heating. It’s far more important for his administration to pretend to to be considering opening the Arctic Petroleum Reserve to drilling (though they won’t actually do it) and make speeches about solar panels (which are next to useless here in the winter) than it is to consider the people their policies affect.

So could someone please tell me why the administrative state is a good idea? How do you justify the tyranny?


Village sues feds to open road in refuge | Juneau Empire – Alaskas Capital City Online Newspaper   Leave a comment

Village sues feds to open road in refuge | Juneau Empire – Alaskas Capital City Online Newspaper.

Good for them! Not that the 9th circuit will recognize the right of people to have access to the outside world, but this speaks to the larger issue of federal overreach and the more of these court cases that make it into the national view, the better.

Point-Counterpoint: Murkowski right to take on EPA   Leave a comment

From the Anchorage Daily News

I’m not a fan of Princess (Senator) Lisa Murkowski, but she’s been doing the right thing on these issues.

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

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.

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.

Wouldn’t the same “bad weather” that makes a helicopter flight impossible make travel over a gravel road impossible?
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…..
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.
3:03 AM GMT-0800
Poachers and Native hunting rights. This road wouild gut the preserve and make it meaningless.
Sad to say, ” Fat Chance ” I wish Alaska luck on this. Legislation seems needed to protect your rights.
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.
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.
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.

Guano Piles High at Izembek Refuge   Leave a comment

The Alaska Dispatch did an excellent run-down of the issues surrounding the King Cove Road. Ultimately, this comes down to a massive federal overreach into Alaska’s affairs, whereby citizens from other states get to tell the people of King Cove how they should live … of if they should live at all.

I keep riffing on this issue because it is incredibly indicative of why top-down government doesn’t work.

Myths muddle effort to carve a road through Alaska refuge

Alex DeMarban

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An aerial view of King Cove (population 948). Located 18 miles southeast of Cold Bay on the south side of the Alaska Peninsula, King Cove was founded in 1911 and incorporated in 1949. Laurel Andrews photo

The guano is piling up at the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, but it’s not just from the birds.

Up to its ears in the stuff was a recent editorial by former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt. But he’s not the only one getting it wrong about a proposed road through the wilderness.

Babbitt refused to be interviewed for this story. He was involved with the road nearly two decades ago when he ran the Interior for then-President Bill Clinton, who had threatened to veto the idea.

The Aleut village of King Cove has long sought the dozen-mile extension through the refuge wilderness. Village leaders say a road would save lives by allowing sick and injured residents to quickly reach Cold Bay, where emergency flights to Anchorage hospitals can land in bad weather and low visibility. Those conditions ground planes at King Cove’s tiny airstrip.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in December refused to allow the road, because the refuge offers important habitat for migratory birds and animals. Alaskans are pressing Jewell to reconsider.

Myth 1: A road for Peter Pan Seafoods

Enter Babbitt’s recent editorial in the Los Angeles Times. It contained a glaring omission that prompted King Cove mayor Henry Mack to call Babbitt “full of shit.” Babbitt and other opponents of the road, apparently want “to confuse the public about the facts” and “repeat this misinformation over and over again so people will accept it as truth,” Mack said.

In his article, Babbitt said the road is really just a way to help Peter Pan Seafoods, which has a processing facility in King Cove, gets its seafood to markets more quickly.

What Babbitt didn’t mention is the 2009 congressional law that gave Jewell the chance to approve a single-lane gravel road. The law says the road must be noncommercial.

Maybe Babbitt assumed Congress will one day rewrite the law? Maybe he thinks the seafood processing plant will find a loophole? Who knows, since he wouldn’t talk.

Dale Schwarzmiller, a Peter Pan executive in Alaska, said in a statement the law is clear. The seafood plant in the village of 1,000 residents will get just one benefit from a road: faster medical help for employees. He called it “deceitful and cynical” to make Peter Pan’s “supposed” commercial interests “the villain in this battle.”

Myth 2: Who’s paying for the road

Fiscal watchdog Citizens Against Government Waste piled on with its own commentary, citing Babbitt’s editorial for support. It awarded Sen. Lisa Murkowski its “March Porker of the Month,” arguing that she wanted to tap federal funds to build a road for the seafood plant.

That attack makes quite the leap — no one knows how the road will be funded. But it’s not as bad as another Babbitt assumption: That Murkowski will probably try attaching a legislative rider to a “bill mandating that the project be built at taxpayer’s expense.”

Murkowski hasn’t requested federal funds. Her office, in fact, has said the state will pay for construction and maintenance of the road.

That’s not known, either. Sharon Leighow, spokeswoman for Gov. Sean Parnell, said she’s not aware of any such public commitment from the governor, in charge since 2009. She also said it’s too early to talk specifics about financing. Officials with the state Department of Transportation said the same thing, adding that they know of no such public commitments by top state officials.

What we do know is the state has placed the road in its current Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan, although that plan can and likely will change.

As of this week, the plan estimated that $21 million will be needed to build 17 miles of road, with part going through the refuge wilderness and another chunk outside. That 17 miles would be the last phase of a longer road connecting King Cove with Cold Bay, some of which has already been built, using mostly federal funds.

For that last 17 miles, the transportation plan estimates design and right of way will cost $4 million. The transportation plan calls for the state paying 10 percent, with the rest from unused federal funds already available to the state.

The transportation plan also estimates an additional $17 million would be needed to build the road. The source of that funding isn’t specified.

And there’s the rub. No one knows. The state could step up to the plate and pay for construction. Or not. The state could also still decide to pay for all the $4 million for design and right of way, if the wilderness road is ever allowed.

By the way, the federal portion of that $4 million had once been earmarked money to be used for what critics call the state’s “Bridges to Nowhere,” such as the Knik Arm Bridge that would connect Anchorage with the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. It would be ironic if the same money is ever used for what Outside opponents call a “Road to Nowhere.”

Myth 3: The hovercraft worked

The Aleutians East Borough, essentially the county government for that Alaska Peninsula region, has said it would help maintain the road. It said funds could come in part from selling its hovercraft, something it hopes to do this summer. The hovercraft was part of a $37 million gift from the government in a 1998 deal brokered by the late Sen. Ted Stevens and the Clinton administration.

The hovercraft was supposed to satisfy King Cove’s desire for a road by providing a vehicle for shuttling residents to Cold Bay when planes couldn’t land.

But the hovercraft — which residents have long maintained they had no choice but to accept — couldn’t operate in all conditions. It worked sometimes, getting people to the hospital at times. But some of the same bad weather that kept emergency flights out of King Cove also shut down the hovercraft. Meanwhile, its huge operational costs were unsustainable for the borough, in part because a special crew from Washington state was needed to operate it.

Myth 4: No one’s dying

Supporters of a road often talk about the 19 lives lost in King Cove because the road doesn’t exist. But the Wilderness Society recently released a publication saying no one had lost their life during an emergency flight since 1990.

However, that argument ignores the sick and injured who suffer while waiting for weather to calm.

And it doesn’t mean no one has died since 1990 because there’s no road to Cold Bay. Borough officials acknowledge there have been no medevac fatalities since 1990. But they say at least five local lives could have been saved since then, had a road existed.

They are:

• Walter Samuelson died Feb. 1, 1990, after suffering a major heart attack. His body had rejected a heart transplant, due to complications caused by being forced to wait two days for medical evacuation because of bad weather.
• Ernest Mack, who died in March 1997 after waiting four days in King Cove for medical care. He was 67.
• Harry Gould Sr., who suffered congestive heart failure at age 80. Bad weather meant he couldn’t get a timely flight to Anchorage. He died Aug. 26, 2000.
 Newborn twins born to Riza Bendixon. She lost them in July 2007, after going into labor prematurely. She was unable to get adequate medical help. Both babies weighed less than 2 pounds at birth. One baby lived a week; the other died within two months.

Contact Alex DeMarban at


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