Biden reinstates logging ban in America’s largest national forest

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The Biden administration on Wednesday honored its commitment to ban commercial logging and other development in more than 9 million acres of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest — the country’s largest national forest.

The move reverses a Trump administration rule that has stripped protections for the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest.

In a statement announcing the new rule, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Tongass “is key to preserving biodiversity and addressing the climate crisis.”

The announcement is the latest in a decades-long tussle over the future of the region.

President Theodore Roosevelt established Tongass as a protected national forest in 1907 and later expanded it to its current footprint of 16.7 million acres. In 2001, President Bill Clinton signed into law the “roadless rule,” which banned road construction and timber harvesting on 58.5 million acres of national forest land, including more than 9 million acres of Tongass.

Often referred to as “America’s Amazon,” the Tongas capture about 8% of the total carbon isolated in forests in the lower 48 states, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and an astonishing 44% of all carbon stored in national forests around the world. United States. And it is increasingly recognized that protecting the forest will be crucial in the fight against global climate change and species loss.

Andy Moderow of the Alaska Wilderness League said the decision “recognizes that Southeast Alaska’s future is rooted in sustainable use of the forest” and “puts public lands and people first.”

Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy (R) called it a “massive loss to Alaskans.”

“Alaskas deserve access to the resources the Tongass provides — jobs, renewables and tourism, not a government plan that treats people in a working forest as an invasive species,” Dunleavy said in a statement.

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