President Donald Trump’s administration has moved to allow logging in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska. The proposal from the Forest Service would result in the cutting down of trees across more than 6,000 acres of forest, including 5,000 acres of old-growth forest that critics say is valuable in the fight against climate change. The Tongass National Forest is a carbon sink, absorbing more carbon than it releases, and mitigating the impact of climate change on human life.
Tongass Forest Supervisor Earl Stewart wrote in a letter included with the proposal that the sale would “contribute jobs and labor income in local and regional communities in the timber and tourism sectors, contribute to improved terrestrial and aquatic conditions, support access to subsistence resources, and provide safe access to Forest users.”
Randi Spivak, the Center for Biological Diversity’s public lands director, criticized the move, pointing to the importance of the carbon sink.
“The older and bigger the tree is means the more carbon it is holding in the tree trunks, the roots, the branches …the bigger, the better. And what you have in the Tongass are some of the carbon-storing champion,” she said, before warning that cutting down trees would have adverse effects on wildlife. “Deer need these old-growth forests for thermal cover in winter and food sources, and when you log these forests, you lose that thermal cover from these forests. Likewise, the archipelago wolf, whose populations have really been devastated, they prey on deer and they also utilize these forests.”
Last month, the Trump administration announced it would be opening up 1.5 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas drilling, a move that received immediate pushback from environmental groups.
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