A rollback in Trump-era protections for the Tongass National Forest may soon be reinstated by the US Department of Agriculture. Conservationists hail the proposed safeguards for species, habitats and climate in America’s largest national forest as a huge victory.
Tongass National Forest, which covers an area of ââ17 million acres, is home to “some of the country’s most iconic species, including brown bears and bald eagles,” according to Environment America. The reason is that all five species of Pacific salmon spawn in forest waters.
âWe have our fingers crossed, hoping this would be announced soon, and are thrilled with today’s announcement,â said Ellen Montgomery, director of public lands at the Environment Research & Policy Center. âThe indispensable habitats of the Tongass National Forest are home to a multitude of species and also play a vital role in the fight against global warming. We must continue to protect old-growth forests and tall trees, like those in Tongass, to ensure that our future includes vital species and a liveable climate. “
The forest absorbs “44 percent of all the carbon stored by all forests in the national forest system,” which is a natural solution to global warming, according to Environment America.
While the Trump administration has attempted to open 9.2 million acres of forest to logging and road construction, the USDA proposal will effectively restore protections to the Tongass National Forest.
USDA will have a 60-day comment period starting November 23, when the public will have the opportunity to submit comments online, by email and by mail on the proposed protection of the area.
“We hope that Americans will walk over to their computers and submit a lot of public comments supporting both this forest and the idea that we need more of nature,” Montgomery said.