Following a meeting with Alaska Natives from King Cove, Alaska and in response to concerns raised by the Alaska delegation, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar is seeking additional information and has directed additional government-to-government consultation to inform a pending decision concerning the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, Land Exchange/Road Corridor as directed under the 2009 Omnibus Land Act.
"As I said when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released the final Environmental Impact Statement, the preferred alternative would protect the heart of a pristine landscape that Congress designated as wilderness and that serves as vital habitat for grizzly bear, caribou and salmon, shorebirds and waterfowl," Secretary Salazar said. "The important analysis contained in the FEIS is based on exhaustive scientific review and extensive public dialogue, including government-to-government consultation."
"Pursuant to the unique trust relationship that Interior holds with Alaska Natives, and in response to concerns raised that a non-commercial road is necessary for medical evacuations from King Cove, I believe that additional steps and dialogue are appropriate before a final decision is made," added Salazar. "In reaching the Department's final decision on this matter, the Secretary will consider the full record before the Department, including the Fish and Wildlife Service's final Environmental Impact Statement, information presented in a report from the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, and comments received during a public meeting in King Cove convened by the Secretary."
Secretary Salazar outlined the additional steps that will be taken, including additional government-to-government consultation and additional public meetings in a memorandum to the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs.