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Saturday, February 16, 2019
HomeAlaska NewsKing Cove Road land swap still on, in spite of shutdown

King Cove Road land swap still on, in spite of shutdown

Although the federal government is technically “not in service at this time,” Alaskans from King Cove have travelled to Washington, D.C. to witness the historic signing of the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge land swap.

The land exchange will allow an 11-mile road to be built to access an all-weather airport at Cold Bay. The road would be a one-lane gravel road for emergency evacuations.

With a bit of work and a touch of luck, the signing will go on, although Department of Interior officials may be moving the venue from DOI offices over to the Senate side of Capitol Hill. Perhaps. They are still working out the details. The federal government is largely not operating until House and Senate Democrats agree to move forward on a budget.

Della Trumble of King Cove Village Corporation, Gov. Bill Walker and Alaska’s entire congressional delegation will join Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Assistant Interior Secretary (and Alaskan) Joe Balash at the ceremony.

Interior has been working on an agreement with the King Cove Corporation to exchange land.

[Read: Zinke issues first permit for King Cove Road]

Environmentalists call the road controversial, but it’s far from controversial in Alaska. The state has been fighting for the road for decades and at least 18 people have lost their lives because they were not able to be evacuated from King Cove, which is buffeted by heavy weather regularly. The Cold Bay airport, however, is open most of the year.

During the Obama Administration, Sec. Sally Jewell signed a Dec. 23, 2013 decision to deny the road. That order has been reversed by Sec. Zinke.

[Read: King Cove land swap is a ‘go’]

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Land swap my a**. It’s a frickin bribe. Like my friend Atilla had to buy 40 acres of swamp in bumf— Alaska and donate to Fish and Game so he could fill 2 acres of swamp to build on in Big lake….after he donated it fish and game gave him his permit.

  • Nothing wrong with a road there…
    Would rather not insult what’s left of non-Millenials’ intelligence with, “…one-lane gravel road for emergency evacuations.”
    Road will (eventually) be used to get Peter Pan’s product to Japan and locals to Anchorage for, shall we say, non-emergency trips.
    Expect it to be free, built, maintained, and cleared by taxpayers, at no cost to cannery or locals.
    What’s not to like?

    • The delay in this decision has already counted 18 local lives, just to save birds destined for the pleasure of hunters. Every flight in and boat out has way more risks than “non emergency trips”. And so what. I’m glad my dollars are going to a useful, lifesaving road. And I also would not mind paying a toll for peace of mind.

      • The only “toll” is on state and federal treasuries, which matters not if one has one’s own lobbyist-legislator team and non-profit corporation.

        Seems sad that honesty got tossed with the bycatch.

        Or is it only the hardened cynic who wonders what happens when returning shoppers/partiers meet departing evacuations on an unmaintained, one-lane gravel road, in the dark or in a whiteout…. or what happens when people start asking why exactly this public road can’t be used to move shoppers and cannery product to Cold Bay Airport and on to Japan or Seattle.

        Imagine what might have happened if the idea had been sold decades ago to our lobbyist-legislator team as a big, “sustainable” (love that word!) economic step forward for an Alaska-Japan economic powerhouse.

        But no, all we got was decades of gloom and doom. King Covians were dropping like flies, and NKC’s (Non King Covians) were wondering if government should declare the whole risky place a disaster area and move the risk-prone people out.

        Good news is that the road is happening and other risky places should get the idea pretty soon that somebody owes them a road too.

  • So I gotta ask “land swap” who is trading what land? king cove corporation has to trade who much land to I guess the feds? how much land is involved in this “trade”?

      • Thank you for the past article. So basically that’s 209 acres for one acre. Hmmmm…..

        • Yeah, but now King Covians will live forever…

          And be able to go shopping in Anchorage whenever they want…

          Good thing, right?

          • Yep, I’m sure your familiar with “village” prices.