The Trump administration Monday agreed to allow a remote Alaskan town to build a road through federally protected lands, ending a 30-year battle over the project.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke signed an agreement with Alaska's King Cove Native Corp. — made up of tribal members from the Agdaagux and Belkofski tribes — to construct a road between King Cove and Cold Bay, which has an all-weather airport.
The road will cut through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, which is under federal protection.
Alaskan politicians have argued the road would provide a route in poor weather for medical evacuations from King Cove. The area lacks its own hospital, and bad weather can stop planes and boats from transporting patients, with 18 people dying from 1980 to 2003, King Cove Mayor Henry Mack told CNN.
Environmentalists counter it will fragment a pristine stretch of tundra and lagoons otherwise off-limits to motorized traffic, The Washington Post reported.
The Wilderness Society plans to challenge the agreement, Vice reported.
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