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Know the West

Trump administration pushes to exempt Tongass from logging restrictions

Clearcutting of old-growth trees in the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest stopped just three years ago.


Tongass National Forest.
Gillfoto/CC via Flickr

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Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, a 16.7 million-acre stretch of old-growth spruce, hemlock and cedar, is the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest. After decades of battles over logging, the Forest Service phased out the clear-cutting of old-growth trees in 2016. However, conservationists argued for stricter laws to protect the ancient trees and rare animals that inhabit this unique ecosystem (“An end to old-growth logging in Alaska’s Tongass?HCN, 10/31/16).


In August, The Washington Post reported that the Trump administration wants to exempt the Tongass from logging restrictions. The area is currently protected by a Clinton administration policy known as the “roadless rule,” which protects about 58 million acres of the nation’s remaining undeveloped national forest from logging, road building and mineral development. Alaska’s political leaders have been pressing the administration for an exemption. If Trump’s plan succeeds, it could affect 9.5 million acres of preserved Tongass forest.