Biden admin reinstates roadless protections for America's largest national forest
"As our nation’s largest national forest and the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world, the Tongass National Forest is key to conserving biodiversity and addressing the climate crisis."
The Department of Agriculture this week announced the repeal of the Trump-era administrative rule that permitted the building of roads and logging in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska.
Final publication of the new rule in the Federal Register is slated for Friday, according to the Associated Press. Restrictions on road-building and logging in the forest will take effect at that point.
"As our nation's largest national forest and the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world, the Tongass National Forest is key to conserving biodiversity and addressing the climate crisis. Restoring roadless protections listens to the voices of Tribal Nations and the people of Southeast Alaska while recognizing the importance of fishing and tourism to the region's economy," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said of the move, The Hill reported.
The Department announced in 2021 that it would begin the process of revising the Trump-era guidelines, which covered roughly 9.4 million acres within the forest, per AP. The forest is roughly the size of the entire state of West Virginia.
Alaska Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy opposed the decision, saying that the move "is a huge loss for Alaskans."
"Alaskans deserve access to the resources that the Tongass provides — jobs, renewable energy resources and tourism, not a government plan that treats human beings within a working forest like an invasive species," he tweeted Thursday.