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Tell the Department of Agriculture: No logging in the Tongass National Forest

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Petition to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue:

"Reject plans to open the Tongass National Forest to devastating exploitation by logging and mining interests."

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    Tell the Department of Agriculture: No logging in the Tongass National Forest

    The Amazon is burning, and yet Donald Trump wants to open the world's largest intact temperate forest to exploitation by mining and logging companies.

    Instead of putting pressure on Trumpian Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro to act in the Amazon, Trump appears to be following his lead here in America. He recently instructed the secretary of agriculture to open 10 million acres in the stunning Tongass National Forest to brutal exploitation.1

    Tongass retains more carbon than any forest in the United States, provides habitat for iconic wild creatures and contains old-growth trees as much as 1,000 years old.2 We can't let Trump destroy it.

    Tell the Department of Agriculture: No logging in the Tongass National Forest.

    "There are very few places in the world that are wild," one Alaska tour guide told reporters. "Here we have one, in southeast Alaska, and it’s being put at risk.3 The Tongass National Forest is a 500-mile archipelago, which encompasses the world's largest temperate rainforest and is "home to five species of Pacific salmon, humpback and orca whales, otters, beavers, Alexander Archipelago wolves, plus some of the largest concentrations of brown bears and bald eagles found in the United States."4

    Its old-growth trees store vast amounts of carbon – an estimated 10-12 percent of all of America's national forests – and play a critical role as "Alaska’s first line of climate change defense."5,6 Local indigenous people, including the Tlingit and Haida, have lived in this region for centuries and rely on the forest's healthy natural resources for survival.7

    The Tongass was open to logging exploitation until the 1990s. As much as half of the old-growth trees in the forest were clear-cut. A Clinton-era "roadless rule" requires the National Forest Service to approve new industrial roads that allow for logging on a case-by-case basis. But Trump recently directed the secretary of agriculture to exempt the Tongass from the rule and unilaterally open up to 10 million acres to exploitation. It appears to be a prelude to pushing for a full repeal of the rule that limits oil, gas and logging companies from plowing up our national forests.8,9

    Trump's plan would also devastate tourism and sustainable salmon fishing – costing Alaska far more than it would gain from environmentally destructive logging that requires federal subsidies to be profitable.10 Clear-cutting forests has weirdly become "an obsession" for Trump, according to a former advisor.11 We need to generate a massive public backlash to stop this idea in its tracks before mining and gas companies plow through the Tongass.

    Tell the Department of Agriculture: No logging in the Tongass National Forest.

    Thank you for speaking out.

    References:

    1. Brendan Jones, "We need the Tongass now more than ever," The Washington Post, Aug. 29, 2019.
    2. Juliet Eilperin and Josh Dawsey, "Trump pushes to allow new logging in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest," The Washington Post, Aug. 27, 2019.
    3. Ibid.
    4. Dominick A. DellaSala, "The Tongass Rainforest as Alaska’s First Line of Climate Change Defense and Importance to the Paris Climate Change Agreements," Forest Legacies.
    5. Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network, "Alaska Indigenous Women to Senator Murkowski: End The Assault On Our Communities and Lands," HuffPost, Jan. 10, 2018.
    6. Krista Langlois, "Thanks to Trump, This Senator Finally Gets Her Chance to Decimate Alaska’s Environmental Protections," Mother Jones, March 11, 2018.
    7. Earthjustice, "Federal Courts Uphold Landmark Federal Forest Protections Again," Sept. 22, 2017.
    8. The Seattle Times Editorial Board, "Stop the assault on Tongass forest," The Seattle Times, Aug. 29, 2019.
    9. Jones, "We need the Tongass now more than ever."
    10. Ibid.
    11. Eilperin and Dawsey, "Trump pushes to allow new logging in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest."

    photo: Carlos Rojas/Getty Images