Alaska Wilderness to Be Developed Following Covert Land Exchange

Alaska Wilderness
Alaska Wilderness to Be Developed Following Covert Land Exchange

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -( Public lands sportsmen and women across the continent could experience a ripple effect of negative impacts as an Interior Department decision allowing development of wilderness lands in Izembek National Wildlife Refuge advances.

Located near the tip of the Alaska Peninsula on the Bering Sea, the Izembek refuge comprises habitat critical to entire populations of migrating waterfowl, as well as big game species such as caribou and brown bear and coldwater fish species, including salmon, steelhead, Dolly Varden and Arctic char.

The administration decision to accept the trade of Alaska tribal lands for areas within Izembek not only conflicts with the best available science; it could be precedent-setting, opening the door to similar development in wilderness, national wildlife refuges and other areas valuable to fish, wildlife and sportsmen.

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers members have strongly opposed past efforts to develop the refuge.

“Izembek National Wildlife Refuge belongs to the American people,” said BHA member Barry Whitehill, who lives in Fairbanks. “We the people deserve better than backdoor administration decisions that would irrevocably harm places so important to fish and wildlife, hunters and anglers. Sportsmen and women have stood up again and again in defense of our wildlife refuges and wilderness lands. Loss of wilderness at Izembek National Wildlife Refuge would diminish forever this national treasure.”

The federal government has repeatedly studied construction of the road through Izembek and its wilderness lands and consistently concluded that it would harm important fish and wildlife species.

The town of King Cove, Alaska, however, maintains that the road is needed to allow ambulances to access the airport in nearby Cold Bay during emergencies; the road also has been touted as a way to boost the town’s commerce.

Federal funds enabled King Cove’s purchase of a $9 million hovercraft to address the issue, but it was subsequently taken out of service.

“Waterfowl can’t speak up for themselves,” said BHA President and CEO Land Tawney, “so we are compelled to do so. Allowing a road through a wildlife refuge threatens the integrity of the refuge system and, in this case, threatens emperor and Pacific black brant geese directly. Our forefathers had the foresight to set aside these lands; disregarding their wishes would squander both our conservation legacy and the amazing hunting opportunities that go with it. We urge the administration to change course and act in the best interests of our public lands, our fish and wildlife and the American citizenry.”

The Interior-King Cove land trade could be finalized by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke before the end of the month.

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is the sportsmen’s voice for our wild public lands, waters and wildlife.

Backcountry Hunters and AnglersAbout Backcountry Hunters & Anglers:

Our freedom to hunt and fish depends on habitat. While many of us enjoy hunting and fishing on a range of landscapes, including farm fields and reservoirs, there is something special – even magical – about hunting deep in the backcountry or fishing on a remote river.

Wilderness hunting and fishing deliver a sense of freedom, challenge and solitude that is increasingly trampled by the twin pressures of growing population and increasing technology. Many treasured fish and wildlife species – such as cutthroat trout, grizzly bear and bighorn sheep – thrive in wilderness. Others, like elk and mule deer, benefit from wilderness. From the Steens Mountain Wilderness in Oregon to the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho and the Boundary Waters of Minnesota, BHA members treasure America's wilderness system and strive to add to it.

We take the advice of Theodore Roosevelt: “Preserve large tracts of wilderness … for the exercise of the skill of the hunter, whether or not he is a man of means.”

  • 26 thoughts on “Alaska Wilderness to Be Developed Following Covert Land Exchange

    1. Do as Sec. Zimmerman says build the road let local people chose for themselves. not bha(aka sierra club). Bha has been to our county meetings, wanting us to lock up more of our county land! If we did what they wanted 1/6 of our county would be locked up! Shut up bha, let local people run there own local business . Your only agenda is to lock up the land and throw away the key!

    2. One look at the headline and I KNEW BHA was all knicker-be-knotted again. Seems they can’t stand the thought of one square inch of land presently locked up for THEIR pleasure being used for anything but looking at and thinking about. Spoilt crybabies. With money. The most dangerous sort.

      That access road has been an issue for decades… Uncle Stupid adamantly refusing to budge. So they wasted $9Mn on a hovercraft. Ever tried to negotiate in one of those in a howling gale? They burn increadible quantities of fuel, can’t go fast at a, minimal payload, and super high maintainance costs. And getting spares up there when needed? What a laugh. Nope, an Arctic Cat is far less money, cheaper to operate and maintain, far more reliable, easier to use, and less weather dependent. And just maybe one of those can make it out when nothing else can.. and they are fairly common in that area, for good reason.

      I wonder something else.. maybe one of these BHA characters can riddle to me precisely HOW a single lane packed gravel road will destroy ALL habitate for the geese, brant, etc, that inhabit the area? Don;t browns regularly walk across roads elsewhere? Its notlike they’re wanting to build Interstate Ninety all the way across Montana west to east and back….. get real guys. Maybe go over to Siberia and buy up a couple billion square miles and lock that up.

    3. I think Ammoland keeps putting the bha stuff in there in order to keep rattling our cages because it is known that bha is a source of agitation to most of us.

      1. Irrelevant, we’re already there. Now it’s a question of proper management and that doesn’t include shutting everyone out for eternity.

      2. @SS, I presume that you live shelterless, clothingless, and in the wilderness or are you part the “… man screws it up” problem?

      3. Then stop kicking yourself in the backside. If you truly believe that, you would be against BHA and tell them to keep their feet out of the back country. Let the back country burn…….. Yeah, that sounds right.

      1. Ron how would you feel about being forced to sell your home and being moved 12 miles away from your job site, home and perhaps the graves of your family at the whim of some unelected DC civil servant? Problem solved?

      2. Thank you Tionico. I’m no legal expert but the Federal government reserves much much more property and lands than the Constitution allows. This abuse is rampant across the West. They will do anything to preserve or expand it. I give you the Bundy trial recently dismissed with prejudice as an example of government run amuck.

    4. The federal government should not be controlling most of the land in a state. The people of the state should decide except in the case of national defense. Allow the people who live there and then know the land best decide. When a land area becomes a state the constitution requires all power not specifically assigned to the federal government belongs to the state–enumerated powers clause..

      1. @Ray, that is not a correct statement of Constitutional law. Please see Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2 focus on “belonging to the United States.” Please see also US v Gratiot 1 McLean 454

        1. Hold yer horses there, Bill. Those words have meanings, and those meanings have consequences. Note the word “territory”. that means public lands within the boundaries of the United States that are NOT part of any particular state… as the TERRITORY of Alaska was after Seward bought it from Russia and before it became a state. Once it became a state, ALL lands within the new state are now part of that stte, and no llonger under FedGov control.. with certain exceptions clearly laid out in Art 1 Sec 8 I believe it is.. the bit about DC, dockyards, post offifes and post raods, etc, with specific REQUIREMENTS that FedGov PURCHASE any such lands needed for Fed business. Please not specifically that Sec 3 par 1 uses the word STATE multiple times in certain contexts. Next paragraph the word is TERRITORY, followed by “other property”. .. diffrent critter, diffrerent rules.
          Please study out the various Charters, granted by Congress, of each of the several states that were not part of the original thirteen, but joined the Union later. EACH ONE of those charters contained language to the effect that ALL public lands situate within the bounds of the new state BECOME part of that state, and are no longer subject to any other jurisdiction except as clearly laid out in Art 1 Sec 8 mentioned above.
          I don’t care what that SCOTUS case says, they have a rotten track record of getting it wrong…… Kelo, Lawrende, Scott, Filburn, Obergefell, Roe.. they tend to get caught up in penumbrae and emanations and judge ephemerally……. further, their pontificatioins are NOT law, only OPINIONS.

          1. @Tio, You write, in pertinent part, “… Once it became a state, ALL lands within the new state are now part of that stte, and no llonger under FedGov control.. ” The Congressional Acts enabling a territory to become a state, that I have read, do not grant all of the land to the state, but rather retain ownership and require all other entities to give up claims of title to the land that the Congress wants to keep, before that enabling act goes into effect. Although I have not read each Congressional Act enabling a territory to become a state.
            Oh, and I think you mean dicta. Opinions become law. Their pontifications are mere dicta. But I knew what you meant.

            1. @Tio, here is some standard language used in the N. Dak., S. Dak, Montana, and Washington enabling acts: “Second. That the people inhabiting said proposed States do agree and declare that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within the boundaries thereof, and to all lands lying within said limits owned or held by any Indian or Indian tribes; and that until the title thereto shall have been extinguished by the United States, the same shall be and remain subject to the disposition of the United States, and said Indian lands shall remain under the absolute jurisdiction and control of the Congress of the United States;…”

            2. @Tio, et al Here is the land retention language from the Alaska statehood enabling act: “The State of Alaska and its political subdivisions, respectively, shall have and retain title to all property, real and personal, title to which is in the Territory of Alaska or any of the subdivisions. Except as provided in section 6 hereof, the United States shall retain title to all property, real and personal, to which it has title, including public lands.”

    5. Does Ammoland support BHA? I’m asking because of the frequent appearance of articles about them that look like unchallenged press releases.

    6. Sounds like the SIERRA club or ELF wrote this article. BHA is probably a hoax group that opposes hunting and fishing.
      I trust Sec Zinke.
      Build the road

      1. BHA is anti-hunting, anti-sportsman. See the reply by Cecil, below your comment. As soon as I read the title I knew it was going to have their imprint on it. They are a false flag group.

    7. BHA has proven itself, once again, to be on the side of the Flat Earthers, and Eco-Terrorists, supporting a position severely detrimental to the lives of innocent families.

      BHA is immoral and unethical.

    8. So, a 12 mile single lane road is somehow immoral? Given that Weather cancels or delays 30% of all flights in or out of King Cove and you get up to 20ft swells in winter, maybe the idea saving human lives should have more value than some waterfowl?
      Maybe we could look at how much the land swap is also? 61k acres from the Native Corporation for under 200 acres from the feds for a road that would connect to those already in the park. You would think that the additional 60k+ of land would be able to make up for the pittance used on the road.
      If a private company were to try to extort millions of dollars worth of property to allow a town safe year round access to medical services, everyone would be up in arms. But in this case, even though the corporation is willing to pay the blackmail, you have outside parties claiming that they shouldn’t be allowed medical care at all.

      Maybe the BHA doesn’t realize that the feds already own more that 60% of Alaska, or that they prohibit development in most of it. BHA is no better than any other ecoterrorist group from the Outside that wishes to dictate what others can do in their own state.

    9. I’m sorry but this is a putz article written by people who are the only ones that want to savor what they wish to protect. This Is an ALASKAN issue wanted by the state and the Alaska Natives in King Cove. This is a land swap for a life ’emergency’ evacuation route in weather conditions that most lower 48ers wouldn’t leave a shelter. This is a single lane emergency route and many other tried have failed. Back off.

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