A Trump-era rollback of protections for the Tongass National Forest could soon be reinstated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Environmentalist are hailing the proposed safeguards to species, habitats and the climate in America’s largest national forest a huge win.
The Tongass National Forest, which consists of a 17-million-acre area, is home to “some of the country’s most signature species, including brown bears and bald eagles,” according to Environment America. The reason for this is because the five species of pacific salmon spawn in the forest’s waters.
“We’ve had our fingers crossed, hoping this would be announced soon, and we’re thrilled with today’s announcement,” Ellen Montgomery, public lands director at Environment Research & Policy Center, said. “The Tongass National Forest’s indispensable habitats serve as home to a multitude of species and also play a vital role in helping fight global warming. We need to continue to protect old forests and big trees, such as those in the Tongass, to ensure our future includes essential species and a livable climate.”
The forest is absorbs “44 percent of all 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 tried to open 9.2 million acres of the forest to logging and roadbuilding, the USDA’s proposal will effectively reinstate the protections for Tongass National Forest.
The USDA will have a 60-day comment period beginning on Nov. 23 when the public will have the chance to submit feedback online, by email and mail on the proposal to protect the area.
“We hope that Americans head to their computers and submit lots of public comments in favor of both this forest and the idea that we need more nature,” Montgomery said.