The world’s largest intact temperate forest sits in southeast Alaska, where towering trees have been growing for over a millennium. But if Trump and his cronies have their way, those trees won’t be around much longer. As part of the budget bill being negotiated today, Alaska senator Lisa Murkowski is pushing to increase old-growth logging in the state. If the measure passes, it could lead to the destruction of one of the last old-growth coniferous trees in the United States. The move would support the last industrial-scale sawmill in that part of Alaska, which employs just 34 people.
Viking Lumber Company has been operating in Alaska for over 60 years, and its equipment shows its age. But according to the company’s VP, they can’t afford to upgrade to newer equipment that can handle the smaller sizes of newer trees. If they can no longer cut down old-growth trees, the company will have to shut its doors.
But the Tongass forest and surrounding areas have been logged to death for decades, and the ecosystem can’t handle more. The forest encompasses 17 million acres of mostly untouched land that is home to wolves, bears, mink, voles, salmon and the largest concentration of nesting bald eagles in the world.
Trees in the forest are cut down to make trim and moldings for homes, as well as soundboards for pianos. About 1/3 of it is exported to China. In 2016, after years of research and effort, the practice of old-growth logging was to be phased out over the next 20 years, but Murkowski wants to stop that from happening. If nothing else, her stance is consistent with her policy of opening Alaska up for more oil, gold and gas extraction, but the move could destroy something that the US has precious little of, all in the name of preserving a dying industry.
Via The Guardian