For Immediate Release, December 23, 2013

Contact: Rebecca Noblin, (907) 274-1110,

Interior Department Rejects Plan to Build Road Through Alaska's Izembek National Wildlife Refuge

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- After months of review, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today reaffirmed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s earlier decision to forbid the construction of a road through Alaska’s Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. Conservation groups applauded the decision and the leadership of Secretary Jewell.

After three years of study, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded earlier this year that the road would not be in the public’s best interests, and would have harmed the refuge lands and wildlife. Secretary Jewell spent the past several months reconsidering that decision.

“We applaud Secretary Jewell’s strong stand to protect Izembek’s wilderness and its unmatched wildlife habitat from the damaging impacts of the proposed road,” said conservation biologist Kiersten Lippmann of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Clearly, building a road through this remote and ecologically critical area was not in the public interest.”

In 1998, taxpayers provided $37.5 million for an efficient transportation solution between the remote communities of King Cove and Cold Bay that includes a state-of-the-art hovercraft, a road to the hovercraft terminal, and upgrades to the telemedicine center.

Much of the refuge is designated wilderness and home to a diverse array of wildlife species and migratory birds, including five species of salmon, harbor seals, sea otters and Steller’s sea lions; wolves, caribou, brown bears and hundreds of thousands of shorebirds and seabirds.

The birds, including threatened and endangered species, and numerous mammals and fish depend on the wetlands, tundra, streams, and tidal areas to reproduce and feed.  

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