A federal appeals court panel on Wednesday reversed a decision that rejected a land swap aimed at allowing a road be built through an Alaska national wildlife refuge that is an internationally recognized habitat for migrating waterfowl.
A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent the decision back to U.S. District Judge John Sedwick in Alaska for further consideration. Nine environmental groups had sued to stop the swap on the Alaska Peninsula.
Sedwick blocked an agreement that would have allowed the Interior secretary and King Cove Corp., an Alaska Native village corporation, to exchange land in Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in the Aleutians East Borough to build a long-sought gravel road that would allow King Cove residents access to an all-weather airport in nearby Cold Bay for medical transports.
David Bernhardt, who was an Interior secretary under then-President Donald Trump, agreed to the land swap and environmental groups sued. The Biden administration joined King Cove Corp., the Agdaagux Tribe of King Cove, the Native Village of Belkofski and the state of Alaska in seeking the reversal of the district court’s ruling.