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1/ Before leaving office, @SecretaryZinke rejected scientists + bypassed Congress to build a “lifesaving road” on a pristine wildlife refuge.

Our reporting suggests the real purpose is transporting seafood – and helping the world’s biggest fish processor.…
2/ For six decades, the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, tucked along the coast of the Bering Sea in Alaska, has been protected as one of the wildest nature spots on Earth, remote enough to escape development.
3/ That began to change about a year ago, when Zinke signed a land swap that aimed to create better access between the cannery town of King Cove and a nearby airport.

Part of the deal was building 12 miles of road.
4/ In a four-year study, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said building the road would “lead to significant degradation of irreplaceable ecological resources.”…
5/ Zinke ignored those warnings and worked behind the scenes to deliver the road to the Aleut government, which had spent decades lobbying the government for it.
6/ The Aleuts said that the road was critical for emergency transport. King Cove is remote, after all, and its weather is notoriously volatile.
7/ Yet a close examination of the agreement and the history of the road deal suggests that it is more about selling seafood than saving lives. We'll explain ...
8/ For one thing, Zinke’s deal includes a little-known provision, forged by @Interior, that would allow King Cove fishermen to transport tens of millions of dollars of salmon, crab, cod and other seafood on their way to lucrative Asian markets.
9/ Also, a document dating back two decades shows that hauling fish, not patients, was the Aleuts’ original motive for building a road through the national refuge.
10/ And a local medical expert disputes that a road through the refuge is a safe way to transport patients.

“Should the road happen, I foresee all sorts of calamity,” said Dr. Peter Mjos, who was the Eastern Aleutian Tribes’ medical director until 2002.
11/ Leaders in King Cove say road opponents are valuing birds and other wildlife more than residents’ medical needs. Lillian Sager is a member of a large Aleut commercial fishing family that has tried to get the road built for decades.
12/ “When I’m stuck in King Cove and the wind is blowing 100 miles an hour and I’m sick, you want to get out of that town,” she said. “All that is more important than if there is garbage on the road or if (hunters) are going to shoot animals.”
13/ The road is the centerpiece of a campaign by Trump and Alaska’s Republican congressional delegation to monetize the state’s public lands by approving private development, oil drilling, mining and logging.
14/ Trump even promised Alaska Sen. @LisaMurkowski that he’d get the road built.

He scribbled a note to her on a copy of a @WashingtonPost story about the land swap.
15/ The land deal with Zinke is not yet final, pending completion of the surveying and an appraisal. Nine environmental groups have filed suit to stop it.…
16/ But if completed, the road would pose major risks to the survival of a variety of species, including the brant, tundra swan, emperor goose, bear, caribou and fish populations.
17/ This story is part of our ongoing series investigating how the Trump administration is bypassing, erasing and censoring science.

Read more work here:…
18/ And for more stories like this, subscribe to our newsletter:
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