King Cove, AK – June 30, 2014 – King Cove tribal and community leaders are thanking Governor Sean Parnell after the State of Alaska announced it has filed a motion today to intervene in support of King Cove and the other plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed earlier this month. The state and the King Cove plaintiffs are asking the federal court to order the U.S. Interior Department to reverse its decision regarding the connector road and land exchange between the remote community and the all-weather Cold Bay airport.
“We are so appreciative of the governor’s continued support of the lives, health and safety of the King Cove people,” said Della Trumble, spokeswoman for the Agdaagux Tribe and the King Cove (Native) Corporation. “While the Secretary of the Interior seems to believe that we can’t coexist with the birds, mammals and the habitat, the Governor, a lifelong Alaskan, knows better. This is so heartening to us.”
On June 4, 2014, King Cove (Aleut) residents, Alaska tribes and two local governments sued U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and several U.S. government officials in federal court. The lawsuit was filed because of the Department of Interior’s denial of a road to link the City of King Cove with the all-weather Cold Bay Airport, located about 25 miles away. The community is accessible only by small plane or boat, weather permitting. King Cove has been battling for the road for decades in order to medevac seriously ill or injured patients during frequent periods of bad weather. In 2009, Congress and the President approved the road and a massive land swap (56,000 acres from the State and the King Cove Corporation) in exchange for a small single-lane gravel road corridor (206 acres) to the nearby all-weather Cold Bay Airport. Following an environmental impact statement, Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell rejected the road just two days before Christmas last year.
“We still have heard nothing from the Secretary, as noted by Senator Lisa Murkowski recently,” said Aleutians East Borough Mayor Stanley Mack. “She pledged to work with us to find a reliable transportation option after denying the road. We passed the six-month anniversary of her heartless decision. Will we ever hear from her? We just don’t know. In any case, we are so thankful for the support of the Alaska Congressional delegation as well as that of the Governor.”
“We look forward to working with the State Attorney General’s office to win this lawsuit and get a decision which allows the land exchange and the life-saving road to get back on track,” said King Cove Mayor Henry Mack.
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