Environment US: Biden restores protections to Alaska's Tongass National Forest


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Joel Jackson, the president of the Organized Village of Kake, a tribal community, has lived within the Tongass National Forest in Alaska his entire life. His community relies on the land for hunting deer and fishing salmon that swim in streams kept cold by the old-growth forest.

But the 66-year-old worried about damage to that land - the largest national forest in the US - after former President Donald Trump rescinded a measure blocking logging and road-building on nine million acres of land in the Tongass in 2020.

"The forest is key to our survival as a people, to our way of life … for thousands of years," Mr Jackson said.

Last week marked a long-awaited victory for Mr Jackson and other tribes and environmental groups who petitioned the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to reinstate the protections for the forest.

The agency announced last Wednesday it would once again ban logging and the construction of roads for cutting timber in over half of the Tongass.

The decision follows a years-long conflict between Alaskan Republican officials - who have argued the rule has slowed economic development and that renewing it will hamper efforts to connect remote communities by road, among other concerns - and conservationists, indigenous groups and others who say the measure is key to protecting the environment.

I am a fan of anything that prevents the destruction of pristine native areas. Hopefully it will stay protected!
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