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The proposed road would run along what’s essentially a fjord, he said, with avalanche danger and erosion potential for the bay. The same wicked winds that ground airplanes and hovercraft will render a road impassible with snow drifts, he said, and make the road as expensive to maintain as the hovercraft.

Salazar likely took seriously his responsibility to balance the needs of the people of King Cove with protection for the refuge, Matson said, and Murkowski’s threat to put a hold on Salazar’s replacement is not appropriate.

“It’s unfortunate that she’s politicizing this issue,” he said.