Della Trumble, a spokesperson for the King Cove Corporation embraces Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke at Department of the Interior headquarters in Washington, D.C., on January 22, 2018. Photo: U.S. DOI
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Environmental groups sue to block road for Native village in Alaska

Environmental groups are suing the Trump administration to prevent the construction of a life-saving road for a Native village in Alaska.

The nine groups say the Department of the Interior violated federal law when it paved the way for the road to King Cove, an Aleut village. They claim a proposed land swap -- which has not yet been completed -- will harm the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge.

“If they can trade away land any time a development project comes along, none of Alaska’s public lands are safe under this administration,” Katie Strong, an attorney from Trustees for Alaska, which is representing the environmental groups, told The Anchorage Daily News.

As part of the swap, Secretary Ryan Zinke agreed to trade up to 500 acres within the refuge to King Cove Native Corp., an Alaska Native village corporation whose shareholders include residents of the village. The road would then be built on the traded land.

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The village has been pushing for a road for decades in order for residents to get to the nearest all-weather airport. They say the project will save lives -- a total of 18 people have died in plane crashes or while waiting to be medevaced from King Cove since the creation of the refuge in 1980.

“It is unfortunate that the special interest groups continue to ignore the health and safety concerns of the residents of King Cove,” Della Trumble, a spokesperson for the village corporation, told The Daily News.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include the Alaska Wilderness League, the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, the Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges, the National Audubon Society, the National Wildlife Refuge Association, the Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society and Wilderness Watch.

Read More on the Story:
Environmental groups sue Trump administration over road through Alaska wildlife refuge (The Anchorage Daily News January 31, 2018)
Enviros sue over King Cove road (Alaska Public Media January 31, 2018)
Environmental groups sue over King Cove land swap (KTVA January 31, 2018)
Environmentalists Fight Alaska’s Land Transfer (Courthouse News Service January 31, 2018)
Environmental Groups Sue to Block Road Through Alaska Refuge (The Associated Press January 31, 2018)

Related Stories:
Trump administration paves way for contested road to Native village (January 22, 2018)
House approves bill to authorize life-saving road for Native village in Alaska (July 21, 2017)
Lawmakers debate another Indian bill though none have gone to President Trump yet (July 19, 2017)
Life-saving road for Native village inches forward in Alaska and in D.C. (June 27, 2017)
House panel takes up bill to approve road for Alaska Native village (April 4, 2017)
Alaska Native village still seeking approval for 'life-saving road' (January 11, 2017)
Judge sides with DOI in dispute over Alaska Native village road (September 25, 2015)