Audubon Flying to Court for Izembek National Wildlife Refuge

Audubon and other conservation groups filed a lawsuit today challenging the recent land transfer agreement.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — In a lawsuit filed today, National Audubon Society together with Trustees for Alaska are challenging the legality of a land transfer agreement signed by Department of the Interior and King Cove Corporation earlier this month.

“Breaking Izembek isn’t an option; this is a ruse that opens the door to full-on development and we’ll fight it every step of the way,” said David Yarnold (@david_yarnold), Audubon's president and CEO.

“It’s called a refuge for a reason. It’s a place where birds and other wildlife can raise their young and live the way nature intended.” 

The land transfer agreement aims to facilitate the building of a road through vital bird habitat in the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. The lawsuit argues that the agreement violates sections of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).

“Considering Izembek’s importance to birds and other wildlife, decisions about the Refuge should be held to the highest standards of transparency and proper process. But when the Interior Department cut out the heart of Izembek, it also cut the American public out of the decision-making process. So, we’re asking the court to determine the lawfulness of this dubious deal,” said Susan Culliney, Audubon Alaska’s policy director.

The other plaintiffs on the lawsuit are The Wilderness Society, Defenders of Wildlife, National Wildlife Refuge Association, Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges, Wilderness Watch, Alaska Wilderness League, Center for Biological Diversity, and Sierra Club.

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more how to help at and follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @audubonsociety.

Since 1977, Audubon Alaska's mission is to conserve the spectacular natural ecosystems of the state, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats, for the benefit and enjoyment of current and future generations. Audubon Alaska uses science to identify conservation priorities and support conservation actions and policies, with an emphasis on public lands and waters. Audubon Alaska is a state office of the National Audubon Society. Learn more at

Liz Gustafson, Communications Manager,
Audubon Alaska,, 907-276-7034, 907-891-3422.
Nicolas Gonzalez, Media Relations Manager, National Audubon Society,, 212-979-3100.