Former Public Officers Urge Secretary Haaland To Shield Izembek Nationwide Wildlife Refuge & Alaska Nationwide Curiosity Lands Conservation Act — The Nationwide Wildlife Refuge Affiliation

📷 Aghileen Pinnacles with Mount Dutton past in Izembek Nationwide Wildlife Refuge, Alaska | Gerrit Vyn

Earlier this week, twenty-two former public officers, together with a number of former Secretaries of the Division of the Inside (Inside), despatched a letter to Secretary Haaland expressing their considerations relating to the Inside’s intentions for the Izembek Nationwide Wildlife Refuge (NWR), Alaska. All through their collective tenures in public service, they’ve defended Alaska’s public lands and the conservation and subsistence values protected beneath the Alaska Nationwide Curiosity Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).

Earlier this yr, Secretary Haaland rescinded a 2019 proposed land change that might have allowed a street to be constructed within the Izembek NWR as a result of the method that approved the change was flawed and never in keeping with Departmental coverage. The proposed street would join the village of King Cove with an all-weather airstrip in Chilly Bay with the intent to offer an possibility for emergency medical evacuations for King Cove residents. Now, the Division has renewed the method to evaluation proposals for a land change that might enable a street, utilizing the identical illegal pretense because the earlier administration. The letter was additionally submitted as a public remark to this evaluation course of.

The legislation that established the Izembek NWR and over 100 million acres of conservation lands in Alaska, often called ANILCA, permits for land exchanges provided that the aim is to profit the conservation or subsistence values of the world. ANILCA doesn’t enable for land exchanges to construct roads, and it doesn’t present the authority to the Secretary to authorize a land change for this goal. On this renewed effort to authorize a street, the Biden Administration perpetuates the suggestion that the Secretary of the Inside has the authority to commerce away congressionally designated wilderness to non-public events to permit roads or different improvement initiatives. Such authority would implicate all of Alaska’s conservation lands, setting a precedent that different wilderness areas will be subjected to comparable trades to permit improvement initiatives.

Earlier proposals to assemble a street by way of the ecological coronary heart of this distinctive nationwide wildlife refuge have up to now been unsuccessful as a result of important and irreversible injury it could make to one of many world’s most crucial wetlands and waterfowl habitats. This street would have devastating impacts on greater than half one million Pacific brant, emperor geese, swans, and different wildlife, leading to habitat fragmentation, disturbance, and air pollution. These impacts on wildlife would additionally inevitably influence subsistence searching and harvesting for Indigenous communities that depend on these sources. Non-road options for transportation between King Cove and Chilly Bay are extra dependable, inexpensive, and received’t hurt the Izembek NWR. 

The letter underscored the significance of defending the Izembek Nationwide Wildlife Refuge, subsistence rights, and the integrity of the Alaska Nationwide Curiosity Lands Conservation Act. It additional urged the Secretary to pursue various non-road choices that might accommodate the current and future wants of all peoples that depend on the subsistence use and conservation values of the Izembek Nationwide Wildlife Refuge. These critically vital wetlands have to be protected for future generations. Learn the letter in its entirety right here >>

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