This story was originally published by Reveal and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
Cold Bay, Alaska — At the spot where a rugged chain of islands breaks away from the Alaska Peninsula, a secluded national refuge protects millions of seabirds, grizzly bears, and caribou.
Framed by snow-capped mountains and smoky volcanoes, the refuge holds an irreplaceable underwater grass forest, where the world’s population of a tuxedo-colored sea goose — 150,000 of them — fattens up before a nonstop 60-hour migration to Mexico.
For six decades, the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, tucked along the coast of the Bering Sea, has been protected as one of the wildest nature spots on Earth, remote enough to escape development.
But that isolation has been shattered. Seven noisy helicopters swooped down 80 times over two days in July to land on the narrow isthmus where animals nest, feed, and migrate.
Then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, prodded by President Donald Trump, ordered the surprise helicopter survey to prepare to bulldoze a 12-mile road through the refuge’s federally protected wilderness.
Almost a year ... Read more