Impassioned Voices Speak Out on King Cove Road

fisheries veterans were among those whose testimony was heard this past week in
Anchorage at a federal public hearing regarding building a road between the fishing
community of King Cove and Cold Bay’s all-weather airport.
testimony delivered on behalf of Stanley Mack, mayor of the Aleutians East Borough,
the US Fish and Wildlife Service heard an impassioned plea to allow for a land exchange
that would allow for construction of a single land road – to be used for medical
emergencies – between the two communities.
said in his testimony that the government should look at the record, which shows
that the Aleut people take what they need for subsistence and leave the rest of
the wildlife alone. “If you’re a swan or any other animal who wants a life in the
wild, you’re pretty happy with the Aleut way,” said Mack, a Sand Point resident
who was born and raised in King Cove.
Cotten, a member of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, said, “the reluctance
of the United States government to allow this road is a good example of a bad decision
to presume a one-size-fits-all land designation should trump the logic and merits
of this particular project.
Pan Seafoods is the major employer at King Cove, a thriving community of about 900
residents, operating its plant there 50 weeks a year. The community recently had
a huge celebration marking the 100th anniversary of Peter Pan in their community,
located on the wind-swept southern edge of the Alaska Peninsula.
weather there is often stormy and/or extremely windy, making it impossible for small
aircraft – the normal transportation between King Cove and Cold Bay, to fly.
the only option is travel by fishing vessel, a journey that can take three hours
to deliver a patient to a medevac flight at Cold Bay. Sometimes the weather gets
so bad that even travel by water is unsafe.
Cove Mayor Henry Mack, also a fisheries veteran, said a road would assure residents
and others, including a number of employees of Peter Pan Seafoods, with access to
doctors in emergencies, and that lives could be saved.
national environmental groups oppose the land exchange that would make the road
possible because the road would wind through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge.
decision on the road might come as early as December from Interior Secretary Ken