Biden Administration Restores Protections To ‘America’s Amazon’
The Biden Administration has taken action to conserve the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest by banning commercial logging and other development across more than 9 million acres of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, the nation’s largest national forest.
This move reverses a Trump Administration rule that weakened safeguards for the Tongass National Forest, often referred to as “America’s Amazon.”
According to American Salmon Forest, President Theodore Roosevelt first established Tongass as a protected national forest in 1907 and expanded it to cover 16.7 million acres. In 2001, President Bill Clinton signed into law the “roadless rule,” which prohibited building roads and harvesting timber on 58.5 million acres of national forest land, including more than 9 million acres of Tongass.
But the Trump administration exempted Tongass from the roadless rule in 2020, lifting those Clinton-era logging restrictions across 9.3 million acres and reclassifying 188,000 acres, including 168,000 acres of old-growth timber, as immediately suitable for harvest, Alaska Public Media reports.
This forest sequesters about 8% of the total carbon isolated in forests in the Lower 48 states, the USDA reports, and an astonishing 44% of all carbon stored in national forests across the United States, according to KSTK.
Environmental groups have applauded this decision while Republicans and timber interests have accused the Biden Administration of locking up the state’s resources at the expense of working class taxpayers. However, the future of the Tongass National Forest and the fight against global climate change and species loss is rooted in sustainable uses of the forest and putting public lands and people first.
In a statement announcing the new rule, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Tongass “is key to conserving biodiversity and addressing the climate crisis.”
As UPI reports, the U.S. Forest Service received close to 112,000 public comment documents, many in favor of consulting with Southeast Alaska Tribal Nations and restoring protections to Tongass.
“Restoring roadless protections listens to the voices of Tribal Nations and the people of Southeast Alaska while recognizing the importance of fishing and tourism to the region’s economy,” Vilsack said.Whizzco