Protect the vital resources of the Alaskan wilderness



The scourge of old-fashioned industrial-scale logging in Alaska is about to end. And it couldn’t have happened soon enough. And, in fact, it didn’t happen soon enough.

The Biden administration recently announced sweeping protections for Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, including stopping large-scale ancient logging. In addition, road development will be banned in 9 million acres of the 16.7 million acre forest.

The protections of this forest signal a change for an area that has been cutting down massive trees for decades. The new rules are a reversal of one of former President Donald Trump’s biggest public land decisions.

The changes will halt a major source of future carbon emissions and protect one of the world’s last relatively intact temperate rainforests. Tongass is the only national forest where old-growth logging has been undertaken on an industrial scale.

The current reduction in logging goes beyond the efforts of any previous president.

It’s a good move, one that was designed with protections for the Alaskan natives who operate on a small scale. They will be allowed to continue harvesting old trees. Additionally, the federal government will allocate $ 25 million to Alaska for community development, offsetting the financial benefits of industrial logging.

Logging operations cut down vast swathes of the forest’s largest trees between the 1960s and 1980s. But 5 million acres of prime habitat remain. He deserves protection.

Scientists have identified logging in Tongass as a future driver of global warming, as its ancient trees – many of which are at least 3 centuries old – absorb 8 percent of the carbon stored in the forests of the lower 48 states combined. Carbon stored in old trees can stay out of the atmosphere for 1,000 years if not cut. Research has found that 65 percent of the carbon held by felled trees is released over the following decades.

Alaska Native leaders, environmentalists, commercial fishing operators, anglers, and tourism businesses see protecting Southeast Alaska is the way to go.

The Alaskan wilderness is a resource that when depleted will not be replaced – not in our lifetime, not in half a dozen lifetimes.

The long view is the correct view.

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