The Trump administration on Wednesday lifted protections for Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, a move that will expand logging in the nation’s largest old-growth forest.
BY REBECCA BEITSCH – 10/28/20
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A notice posted in the Federal Register lifts the so-called Roadless Rule for the Tongass, a Clinton-era prohibition on road construction and timber harvesting on many Forest Service lands.
Under the Trump administration’s changes, the nearly 9.4 million acres of inventoried roadless land in Tongass Forest would once again be considered suitable timberlands.
It’s a major blow to environmental efforts to protect one of the world’s largest temperate rainforests–the Forest Service found in 2016 that it stores more carbon than any other forest in the country.
“Government decisions should be informed by public input and made on the basis of science–this decision is neither. This decision ignored public input and this decision turns a blind eye to science,” Ken Rait, director of the public lands and rivers conservation project at Pew Charitable Trusts, told The Hill.
He pointed to comments from the fishing industry arguing the sediment runoff from road construction would harm the salmon industry that operates in the region.
Courts have already questioned the Trump administration’s plans for the Tongass. In March, a U.S. District Court judge failed to fully consider the environmental impacts of a project that opened logging in more than 1.8 million acres of the Tongass over the next 15 years.
This story is developing.