No Road to Ruin

Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Izembek National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1960 to protect some of the most distinctive and important wetlands in the world. It is home to an abundance of wildlife, including 98% of the world’s population of Pacific black brant (a sea bird), as well as grizzly bear, caribou, and salmon. Years ago, a road was proposed to connect the communities of King Cove and Cold Bay - a road that would cut across sensitive wetlands as well as steep slopes prone to avalanches. Numerous studies – by the federal government, the state of Alaska and wildlife experts – have concluded that a road through Izembek would permanently and significantly damage the wilderness and wildlife habitat value of the refuge, yet the road remained in contention for decades, with Defenders and other conservation groups vehemently opposed.

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