A group of tribal and government officials from King Cove are back from a week of lobbying in Washington, D.C. — and they’ve come home with a new assignment.
The point of the trip was to convince Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to reconsider their request to build a road to an all-weather airport in Cold Bay. Residents of King Cove say it would provide easier access to commercial medevac flights.
Jewell had rejected the road in December because it would cross through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. At the time, Jewell said the refuge ecosystem needs to be protected.
Jewell didn’t budge on the road when it came up during a congressional hearing last week. But she did ask for something from the visiting King Cove group.
“We need suggestions from the people that live in the area on what alternatives would be potentially viable to them if a road does not go through,” Jewell said.
Laura Tanis of the Aleutians East Borough says the alternatives would be a hovercraft or a landing craft — and they both have weather limitations that would prevent them from operating in King Cove year-round.
Regardless, Tanis says that local officials will put together information on road alternatives and send them to the Interior Department within the next two weeks.
In the meantime, the Coast Guard is still helping out with medical emergencies in King Cove.
A Coast Guard helicopter flew to the village Monday afternoon to pick up a fisherman with an eye injury. The 58-year-old man was working aboard the P/V Golden Alaska, when he was sprayed with a high-pressure hose.
The crew took the injured man to King Cove’s clinic. Medical staff referred him for a medevac, but commercial services were grounded because of bad weather.
That meant the Coast Guard had to fly in and transfer the man to Cold Bay’s airport. From there, he made it onto a commercial medevac plane bound for Anchorage.
According to the village of King Cove, that was the fifth time the Coast Guard’s had to help medevac a patient this year.