Izembek Wilderness, Alaska

We just won our lawsuit against the Trump administration's illegal attempt to build a road through the heart of the fabled Izembek Wilderness and Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska!

This past Friday, a federal judge ruled against former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's closed-door agreement for a land exchange of federal public lands to allow the State of Alaska to punch a road through this spectacular Wilderness.

Wilderness Watch's executive director George Nickas had this to say about the victory: “This ruling is a great reprieve for the Izembek Wilderness and a great victory for the American people. It’s the first of former Secretary Zinke’s extraordinarily corrupt actions to fall, but it won’t be the last.”

On January 22, 2018, then-Secretary Zinke signed the secret land exchange agreement to facilitate the building of an 11-mile-long road through the Izembek Wilderness. Nine days later, Wilderness Watch and several co-plaintiff organizations filed suit to stop the road.

The Izembek National Wildlife Refuge is 95 percent Wilderness, contains critically important wildlife habitat, and is a major crossroad for international bird migration. A road slicing through this wild masterpiece would be an unspeakable travesty.

“We are deeply grateful for the Court’s decision to reject the Trump administration’s land exchange scheme that would have enabled a road to be built through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge Wilderness, and thus set a precedent threatening the entire National Wilderness Preservation System,” said Fran Mauer, a retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wildlife biologist and Alaska Chapter Representative with Wilderness Watch. “This ruling re-affirms that our Wilderness System is 'for the permanent good of the whole people…' as the Wilderness Act declares.”

Over the past several years, thousands of you wrote letters to decision-makers and contributed to our efforts, so this victory belongs to you!

Many thanks and kudos to Trustees for Alaska for representing Wilderness Watch and the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

Learn more about this issue:

Read the court opinion.

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Photo: Kristine Sowl/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service