Biden administration plans to restore environmental protections to Tongass National Forest
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Biden administration plans to restore environmental protections to Tongass National Forest

The Biden administration announced Friday that it intends to restore environmental protections to the Tongass National Forest. This would reverse a Trump administration rule that allowed logging and road construction in over half of the forest.

According to the US Forest Service, the Tongass is the “largest intact temperate rainforest in the world.” More than 400 species reportedly live within the forest, and many of the trees are hundreds of years old. The Tongass National Forest was protected under the 2001 “roadless rule,” which prohibited logging and road construction on 58.5 million acres of National Forest lands.

The Trump administration announced in October that it would exempt the Tongass from the “roadless rule.” This highly controversial decision allowed logging and road construction in 9 million acres of the forest. Alaska Native tribes filed suit in December, challenging the Trump administration’s decision. Around the same time, environmental and Alaska Native groups also sought to block an auction of oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

On Friday, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it intends to “replace or repeal” the former Trump administration rule. The USDA will formally publish its intent to revise the rule by August.