Alaska Challenges Reinstated Protections for Tongass National Forest

By Aliyah Elfar
Columbia Climate School
January 9, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Though it’s hardly the most famous forest in the US, Alaska’s mighty Tongass National Forest happens to be the largest, stretching nearly 17 million acres or an area roughly the size of West Virginia. The Tongass is also a major American carbon sink, responsible for 44% of the carbon absorbed by the country’s national forests (which themselves absorb over 10% of US annual greenhouse gas emissions). …The current legal protections for the Tongass originated in the “Roadless Rule,” regulations established in 2001 by the Clinton administration to ban roadbuilding and logging on nearly 60 million acres of national forest lands. But in 2020, Trump repealed this rule to allow more acreage of forest—mostly old-growth timber—to be logged. Although there was widespread citizen opposition to the exemption, Alaska Republicans lobbied heavily for this change and its ability to boost the Alaskan economy, and the Trump administration proceeded with the repeal.

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