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Legal experts skeptical of last-minute Bernhardt directive allowing road through Izembek NWR

Just days before leaving office, then-Interior Secretary David Bernhardt ordered federal officials to use a risky legal strategy to advance a controversial road project through a wildlife refuge in Alaska, according to a memo obtained by POLITICO and Type Investigations — a move that if implemented, could erode public land protections across the state.

The January 15 Bernhardt memo to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to move forward with the permitting of a road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Alaska stunned critics who have opposed the project for more than two decades.

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