Hope renewed for King Cove road

Officials in the Alaska Peninsula fishing community of King Cove say they have renewed hope that the new presidential administration will clear the way legally for a road for medevacs to the all weather airport at Cold Bay.

King Cove Mayor Henry Mack said this past week that he believes President-elect Donald Trump and Interior Secretary nominee Ryan Zinke “value human lives as well as birds.

“We are confident they will take action because they understand that the livs of King Cove residents matter,” Mack said.

“We are optimistic that a change of administration will mean we will finally get to the finish line,” said Della Trumble, spokeswoman for the King Cove (Native) Corp.

King Cove residents have been working for over 30 years to get a road corridor linking their city to the all-weather Cold Bay Airport, 25 miles away.  About 11 miles of road would connect to existing roads in the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, providing safe ground transportation from King Cove to Cold Bay to medevac patients when travel by plane or boat is too dangerous due to inclement weather.

In 2009, Congress and President Obama approved the road and a land swap of 61,000 acres from the state and the King Cove Corp. in exchange for a 206-acre, single lane gravel road corridor. The deal was halted when Interior Secretary Sally Jewell rejected the road and land exchange on Dec. 23, 2013.


King Cove tribes, the Native corporation, the city of King Cove and Aleutians East Borough sued Jewell and other federal officials over rejection of the road, but on Sept. 8, 2015, U.S. District Court Judge H. Russel Holland ruled against them, saying there was no violation of the National Environmental Policy Act or the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act.

In the time since Jewell rejected the land swap for the road there have been 55 medevacs from King Cove, often plagued by hurricane force winds, stormy weather and dense fog, proponents of the road said.