Aleutians East Borough Votes to Join Lawsuit to Defend King Cove Land Exchange Agreement with Interior Department
Anchorage, AK – March 2, 2018 – The Aleutians East Borough Assembly on Thursday voted to intervene in a federal lawsuit brought by a coalition of environmental groups against the Department of the Interior for signing a land exchange agreement that will allow the community of King Cove to build a life-saving connector road to a nearby all-weather airport.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke signed the land exchange agreement at the end of January with the King Cove Corporation, which is comprised of members from two local federally-recognized Aleut tribes. National environmental groups sued Secretary Zinke and the Interior Department within days of the signing of the land exchange agreement.
Parties to the filing are the King Cove Group, including the King Cove Corporation, the Aleutians East Borough, the City of King Cove, the Agdaagux Tribe and the Native Village of Belkofski.
“It is important that the people of King Cove and the Borough send a clear signal that they support the land exchange and construction of a road connecting the communities of King Cove and Cold Bay,” said Della Trumble, spokeswoman for the King Cove Corporation.
The Aleut of King Cove have sought to secure federal approval of a road corridor to the all-weather Cold Bay Airport for more than three decades. A small stretch of road, approximately 12 miles long, is needed to link King Cove to the existing road system within the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge.
Under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, the King Cove Corporation, as the land owner, has a legal and moral obligation to its tribal shareholders to intervene in the legal challenge to defend the health and safety of its residents.
The motion approved by the borough assembly directs the attorney representing the King Cove Group to intervene on the side of the Interior Department in the legal challenge.
“After fighting for decades for a road, we will do everything in our power to defend the land exchange,” Trumble said. “This is a matter of life and death for us.”