The Biden administration has announced plans to restore protections to Alaska’s Tongass National Forest after they were stripped under Donald Trump.
One of the world’s largest intact temperate rain forests, the forest in southeastern Alaska is home to more than 400 species of wildlife, fish and shellfish and boasts snowy peaks, fjords and Sitka spruce trees that are more than 800 years old.
Logging, mining and other developments in the forest were banned under a policy known as the roadless rule in 2001, but during Trump’s time in office it was announced that roughly nine million acres, or more than half of the forest, would be open to logging and road construction.
This week, the Biden administration announced it would ‘repeal or replace’ Trump’s ruling to help protect the forest, with its intent to revise the rule set to be formally published in August before details of the final plan are announced within the next two years, The New York Times reports.
Trump’s decision to lift restrictions on the forest was met with backlash from environmentalists, though it pleased Alaskan lawmakers who had previously fought for the change, with senators and governors maintaining that lifting the rules would provide an economic boost for the state.
Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski slammed the announcement to restore protections, saying actions to reimpose the roadless rule will ‘cost jobs, diminish income, keep energy prices high, and cripple the ability of the communities in the region to develop a sustainable, year-round economy.’
The Trump administration, through the Forest Service and USDA, put considerable work and effort into the final rule and now the Biden administration is literally throwing it all away.
We need to end this ‘yo-yo effect’ as the lives of Alaskans who live and work in the Tongass are upended every time we have a new president. This has to end.
Environmentalists, meanwhile, have praised Biden’s decision, with Ellen Montgomery, director of public lands campaigns for Environment America, stating that the organisation applauded the administration for the first step in what they hope ‘will be a swift process to restore full roadless rule protections to the Tongass National Forest.’
It is not yet clear whether the Biden administration will fully replace the roadless rule protections, or whether it will enforce protections in some areas while leaving others open to development.
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CreditsThe New York Times
The New York Times
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