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Groups sue Trump administration over latest deal to punch road through Alaska refuge

The Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, on the Alaska Peninsula near the villages of King Cove and Cold Bay, as seen in this undated file photo. (AP Photo/ U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Conservation groups filed a lawsuit Wednesday to halt the Trump administration’s latest attempt to cut a road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Southwest Alaska.

The lawsuit, filed by Trustees for Alaska in U.S. District Court in Anchorage, asserts that a July land swap between the Interior Department and an Alaska Native corporation violates environmental laws.

The land exchange between King Cove Corp. and the refuge is designed to allow construction of a 12-mile gravel road through the refuge, connecting the village of King Cove to an all-weather airport at Cold Bay.

The deal violates the same laws as a previous land exchange put in place by the Trump administration that was tossed by U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason in March, said Bridget Psarianos, staff attorney for Trustees for Alaska.

Trustees for Alaska also brought the lawsuit in that case. It’s suing on behalf of groups such Alaska Wilderness League, the Sierra Club, National Audubon Society and Center for Biological Diversity.

The decades-long fight over the road pits national environmental interests concerned about a land giveaway and wildlife populations with road supporters who argue the link would improve life-saving access to emergency medical care for King Cove, population 1,000.

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