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Trump Announces Plans To Cut Protections To America’s Largest National Forest

by : Lucy Connolly on : 25 Sep 2020 17:17
Trump Announces Plans To Cut Protections To America's Largest National ForestPA Images

The Trump administration has announced plans to roll back regulations protecting America’s largest national forest from logging.

At 16.7 million acres and covering most of Southeast Alaska, the Tongass National Forest is the world’s largest remaining temperate rainforest and is home to many species of endangered and rare flora and fauna.

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Now, more than one year after it was first revealed Trump was pushing to allow new logging in the area, his administration is moving forward with the plan – much to the disgust of Alaskan tribal nations and environmentalists.

The Tongass National ForestWikimedia

More than half of the forest is currently protected by the ‘Roadless Area Conservation Rule’, which prohibits virtually all logging, roadbuilding and coal, gas and oil leasing in designated wild areas.

The rule, which has been in place since 2001, has survived a decades-long legal assault as former presidents have sought to reverse the policy. Up until now the rule remained in place, and development was prohibited across the forest.

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Now though, following instructions from the Trump administration, the US Forest Service is expected to release a final environmental impact statement that would allow for the Tongass National Forest to be exempt from the rule.

Donald TrumpPA Images

This would allow the administration to move one step closer to ending the protections entirely, something critics have said could have a devastating impact on the native people living in the area.

Andy Moderow, a director for the Alaska Wilderness League, said in a statement, as per The Guardian:

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This administration has opted to take the road well travelled by continuing to spend tens of millions of dollars every year to expand logging roads for a dying old-growth timber industry.

This is bad for people, bad for a sustainable economy and bad for wildlife.

Critics say the move could also adversely affect wildlife and damage tourism opportunities, as well as fuel the climate crisis. Fishermen have also criticised the plan, with the area being a vital source of salmon for the commercial fishing industry.

The Tongass National ForestPA Images

Once the review is released, at least 30 days must pass before a final decision is made. This waiting period will ‘provide time for the Secretary to consider the purpose and need, weigh the alternatives, balance objectives and issue a record of decision on the final rule’, according to the US Forest Service.

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It’s important to note that any record of decision on the final rule will not directly authorise any ‘ground-disturbing activities’; instead, it will just ensure the Trump administration would be one step closer to getting their wish.

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Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: News, America, conservation, Donald Trump, Environment, Politics, trump administration, US

Credits

The Guardian and 1 other
  1. The Guardian

    Trump administration advances plan to cut protections for largest national forest

  2. US Forest Service

    U.S. Department of Agriculture Releases Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Alaska Roadless Rule