King Cove Residents Meet With Interior Secretary Regarding Proposed Road
ANCHORAGE - Residents of King Cove met with Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar in Washington, D.C. on Thursday to share their personal stories of why their village needs an access road.
The Aleutian community wants a road that would go though the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge and Wetlands that would give them access to an all-weather airport for emergency evacuations.
At the beginning of February the Interior Department decided not to take any action on the road after Fish and Wildlife said the project would damage and disturb the habitat.
Stanley Mack, the Aleutians East Borough Mayor, said it was important for residents to meet face to face with Salazar to share their concerns.
“I believe it's necessary that he got to see the people that were directly affected by the decision by the Fish and Wildlife Service. And when they did speak with the secretary, they spoke from the heart,” said Mack.
Residents say the lack of a road becomes the difference between life and death in emergencies.
“This is the only alternative to save my people, to save my community. It felt like a slap to the face when Fish and Wildlife said there should be a no action alternative,” said 15-year old Dustin Newman.
Mack says a decision is expected in the next 30 days. Salazar steps down from his position at the end of March. President Obama nominated REI C.E.O. Sally Jewell to succeed him.