Updated Jul 15, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden administration announces protections for Alaska’s Tongass National Forest

A forest scene at Takatz Bay on Baranof Island, Tongass National Forest, Alaska, USA.

Takatz Bay on Baranof Island, Tongass National Forest. Photo: Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images

The U.S. Forest Service announced sweeping protections for Alaska's Tongass National Forest on Thursday, including a proposal to bar road development on more than 9 million acres.

Why it matters: The Tongass is one of the world’s last relatively intact temperate rainforests, and it is the only national forest where old-growth logging takes place on an industrial scale, according to the Washington Post.

The big picture: The proposal includes $25 million for community development and would allow Alaska Natives and small-scale operators to harvest old-growth trees.

  • The protections reverse a Trump-era rule that allowed logging and other forms of development to take place in the Tongass National Forest.
  • Alaska’s statewide elected leaders, including Republicans Gov. Mike Dunleavy and Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, oppose restrictions on logging and industrial development in the forest.

What they're saying: "This approach will help us chart the path to long-term economic opportunities that are sustainable and reflect southeast Alaska’s rich cultural heritage and magnificent natural resources," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with Vilsack's statement.

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