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Governor Parnell Signs Izembek Land Exchange Bill in Anchorage This Week

Anchorage, AK – Aug. 17, 2010 – Governor Sean Parnell will sign the Izembek Land Exchange Bill (HB210) this week  (at 9:15 a.m.  on Thursday, Aug. 19, 2010) at his Anchorage office (550 W. 7th Ave., Suite 1700).

This critical legislation is another major step forward in the process. Pending approval by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, a small single-lane gravel road corridor (206 acres) would be built from the remote community of King Cove to the all-weather airport in Cold Bay. That corridor would provide residents with a critical link between King Cove and the outside world for health, safety and quality-of-life reasons. In exchange for the road corridor, the State of Alaska and the King Cove Corporation would donate 61,000 acres to the federal government. More than 45,000 acres would go into wilderness status. 

“This is a very exciting day,” said Della Trumble, representing the King Cove Corporation and the Agdaagux Tribe. “We are very thankful that the State of Alaska has supported us so staunchly throughout this process. If the U.S. Interior Secretary approves this exchange, residents will have the peace of mind of knowing they can travel safely from King Cove to the Cold Bay airport and then to the outside world.”

“The City of King Cove is very grateful to Governor Parnell and to the legislature for approving this important bill,” said King Cove Mayor Henry Mack. “The huge amount of pristine land provided by the State of Alaska and the King Cove Corporation in exchange for a small road corridor is unprecedented. The road corridor from King Cove to the Cold Bay Airport would be a life-saving link for our residents and would dramatically improve our quality of life. Having dependable and safe access is crucial.”   

During the bill signing ceremony, Governor Parnell will be flanked by lawmakers who co-sponsored the legislation from both the federal and state government. U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R - Alaska) and Alaska Rep. Bryce Edgmon played a major role in drafting legislation and getting it passed in the state legislature and the U.S. Congress.

“I’m proud to have played a role in helping King Cove move forward on what has been a number-one safety priority for the community for more than 20 years,” said Alaska’s Rep. Bryce Edgmon. “The legislation unanimously passed in the House and Senate, which should send a strong message to the Department of Interior and others that the State of Alaska solidly supports this road.”

House Bill 210 passed the Alaska Legislature in April 2010. This bill completes the state’s role in the agreement and allows the land exchange to occur, pending the completion of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service conducted scoping meetings in Washington, D.C., Anchorage, Sand Point, Nelson Lagoon, Cold Bay, False Pass and King Cove last spring so the public could weigh in. The final EIS is scheduled to be released on February 28, 2012. The U.S. Secretary of the Interior must determine that the land exchange and the road corridor are in the public interest before the project can move forward. The Secretary is scheduled to reveal his public interest finding on April 30, 2012.

“Today marks a major milestone,” said Aleutians East Borough Mayor Stanley Mack. “We’re thankful to have the unwavering support of Governor Parnell and Alaska’s legislature. We’re hopeful that soon Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will find that the land exchange and road corridor are in the public interest.”

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