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Murkowski Pushes For King Cove Road

John Sarvis via Wikimedia Commons

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski continues to push for reliable emergency medical transportation to King Cove.

Murkowski says the only solution for the community of 900 is an 11 mile gravel road connecting King Cove to Cold Bay through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge.

In a hearing Thursday morning she says, “it is time to ensure that King Cove finally has reliable access to emergency medical transportation -- something that virtually every other American takes for granted.”

Audubon Alaska supports a solution for the community, but Beth Peluso says the Izembek refuge is globally significant and needs to be protected.

"And that’s not something that just effects that area. More than 90 percent of specific brant populations goes through Izembek refuge during both fall and winter migration and that’s a species that’s used as subsistence harvest that’s used throughout the state of Alaska," Peluso said.

In 2013, the US Department of the Interior rejected a proposed land swap -- that would have allow the road to be built -- citing the importance of protecting the designated wilderness area.

Since then, King Cove has had 42 medivacs -- 23 for medical emergencies.

A study from the US Army Corps of Engineers suggests three non-road options for medivac including ice capable marine vessels; a fixed wing aircraft and new airport; or a helicopter and heliport.

Zoë Sobel reported for KUCB from 2016 until 2019. She returned to KUCB after a year living in Nepal and Malaysia as a Luce Scholar. She then returned to KUCB as a ProPublica reporter August of 2020 through August of 2021.