"A federal appeals court today [Wednesday] upheld the Trump-era approval of a land exchange agreement that could lead to the construction of a hotly contested road through congressionally designated wilderness within Alaska’s Izembek National Wildlife Refuge.
In doing so, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided 2-1 to reject a district court’s 2020 ruling that former Interior Secretary David Bernhardt violated federal law when he approved the land swap. The agreement would trade property owned by King Cove Corp., an Alaska Native corporation, for acreage within the refuge that could be used to build a 12-mile-long gravel road.
Instead, the panel ruled that Bernhardt’s 2019 land swap decision “was correct” and did not violate the Administrative Procedure Act or the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), the 1980 law that established the wildlife refuge."