'Joel Jackson, the president of the Organized Village of Kake, a tribal
community, has lived within the Tongass National Forest in Alaska his entire
life. His community relies on the land for hunting deer and fishing salmon that
swim in streams kept cold by the old-growth forest.
But the 66-year-old worried about damage to that land - the largest national
forest in the US - after former President Donald Trump rescinded a measure
blocking logging and road-building on nine million acres of land in the Tongass
"The forest is key to our survival as a people, to our way of life … for
thousands of years," Mr Jackson said.
Last week marked a long-awaited victory for Mr Jackson and other tribes and
environmental groups who petitioned the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to
reinstate the protections for the forest.
The agency announced last Wednesday it would once again ban logging and the
construction of roads for cutting timber in over half of the Tongass.
The decision follows a years-long conflict between Alaskan Republican officials
- who have argued the rule has slowed economic development and that renewing it
will hamper efforts to connect remote communities by road, among other concerns
- and conservationists, indigenous groups and others who say the measure is key
to protecting the environment.
Spanning nearly 17 million acres - an area slightly larger than the state of
West Virginia - the Tongass stores 44% of all the carbon dioxide contained in
national forests across the country, according to the Alaska Conservation
One of the world's largest intact temperate rainforests, it is home to
800-year-old cedar, hemlock and Sitka spruce trees that help provide habitats
for over 400 species of land and marine wildlife.
Environmental experts view protecting the forest as key to conserving
biodiversity and mitigating climate change.
The decision to reinstate a rule blocking logging and road-building in the
Tongass reflects the voices of Tribal Nations and the people of Southeast
Alaska, while taking into account the importance of fishing and tourism to the
region's economy, US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a recent
Via Future Crunch
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