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Lawsuit seeks to reimpose development regulations on Tongass

The Associated Press
Lawsuit seeks to reimpose development regulations on Tongass
SHUTTERSTOCK

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA — Twenty-two tribal, environmental, fishing and tourism organizations are suing the Donald Trump administration to block a decision that halted development restrictions in parts of the Tongass National Forest in Alaska.

The groups said in the lawsuit that the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Forest Service did not adhere to federal law when they lifted the restrictions this fall, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

The 49-page lawsuit emphasizes the importance of the national forest’s ecosystem as a habitat for animals such as salmon, wolves and bears and also as a home for indigenous populations. The suit said that the forest is the birthplace of 75 per cent of the commercially-caught salmon in the region and 25 per cent of the commercially-caught salmon on the west coast.

A central component of the lawsuit is structured around The Roadless Rule, which was adopted in 2001 and limits road construction and timber harvesting on National Forest System lands.

Alaska state governments have long supported efforts to eliminate the law, with several governors saying that it restricts the ability of private businesses to profit from the natural resources in the area. The Roadless Rule has been the target of litigation since its inception.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Forest Service did not respond to a request for comment made by The Associated Press.

The Tongass National Forest is the nation’s largest national forest and is the largest remaining temperate rainforest in the world.

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