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The Wilderness Society: Migratory Birds & Globally Important Wilderness Habitat Endangered by Proposed Road Through Izembek Refuge

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 22, 2008
12:10 PM

CONTACT: The Wilderness Society
Kathy Westra, The Wilderness Society, (202) 429-2642, Kathy_Westra@tws.org
Nicole Whittington-Evans, The Wilderness Society, (907) 351-8844, NicoleWE@tws.org
Maribeth Oakes, The Wilderness Society, (202) 429-2674, Maribeth_Oakes@tws.org
David Raskin, Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges, (907) 235-0514 or (520) 396-9191, davidcraskin@yahoo.com
Evan Hirsche, National Wildlife Refuge Association, (202) 333-9074, ehirsche@refugeassociation.org

 
Migratory Birds & Globally Important Wilderness Habitat Endangered by Proposed Road Through Izembek Refuge
House Resources Committee to Consider Alaska Delegation's Proposal for Unnecessary Road
 

WASHINGTON, DC - April 22 -

WHO:
Members of the House Committee on Natural Resources

WHAT:
Mark-up of H.R. 2801, a bill that would exchange critical, globally recognized wilderness and wetlands habitat in Alaska's Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in order to build a road from the town of King Cove to Cold Bay.

WHEN:
11 a.m. Wednesday, April 23, 2008

WHERE:
1324 Longworth House Office Building
If you can't make the hearing, please consider watching the Web cast here

BACKGROUND:
H.R. 2801, sponsored by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), would reverse long-standing protections and allow a road to be cut through the heart of the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge wilderness in Alaska. The CEOs of 24 conservation groups have urged the House Natural Resources Committee to reject the Izembek Road as a bad idea — bad for wildlife, and bad for U.S. taxpayers.

Izembek National Wildlife Refuge is a place where tens of thousands of the world's migratory birds stop to rest, nest, and feed. It is internationally recognized as one of the most ecologically important wetlands complexes on the globe. Nearly the entire world population of Pacific black brant and Emperor geese rely on Izembek. So do Steller's eiders (a species listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act), tundra swans, and dunlins.

Rep. Young says the road is needed for the community of King Cove to access Cold Bay airport for health and safety reasons. The truth is, these needs were met 10 years ago, when Congress gave millions of taxpayer dollars specifically to provide a safe and reliable way for King Cove's residents to get to Cold Bay. The truth is, Rep. Young's proposal would irreparably harm lands and wildlife that belong to all Americans in order to benefit a very few constituents in his home state. He wants to build a road that is not needed and that is not compatible with the purposes for which the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge was established.

In 1998, Congress gave the community of King Cove $37.5 million to assure that residents needing emergency medical attention could safely get to Cold Bay Airport. Among other things, this money—U.S. taxpayers' money—paid for an upgrade to King Cove's medical facilities including advanced telemedicine capabilities, an improved airstrip, a state-of-the-art hovercraft to safely transport people and vehicles to Cold Bay, and connecting marine terminals in the two communities. The hovercraft began operating early last year, and has successfully met every medical evacuation challenge it has faced. When Congress provided this generous appropriation it specified that building a road through the Izembek Refuge Wilderness was strictly prohibited. Now, Rep.Young is pushing his fellow committee members to go against Congress' wishes and build a road anyway.

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