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Alaska's Tongass forest sparks battle over logging

Source:  Copyright 2012, Reuters
Date:  June 17, 2012
Byline:  Deborah Zabarenko
Original URL: Status ONLINE

Environmental advocates readied for battle in Congress this week over what they maintain is an erosion of protections for the biggest, oldest trees in Alaska's Tongass National Forest, often called the crown jewel of the U.S. forest system.

A vast swath of woodland that stretches along the southeast Alaskan coast and inland over more that 17 million acres (70,000 square km), the Tongass is one of the last temperate rainforests on Earth with centuries-old trees critical to wildlife habitat and Alaska's salmon fishery.

Legislation expected to be considered on the House of Representatives floor this week would cede nearly 6 5,000 acres (263 square km) of public land in the Tongass to the native-owned Sealaska Corporation.

Conservation groups say Sealaska would clear-cut some of the last remaining old-growth trees - cut down all trees in a given area - and take ownership of prime recreational sites along bays and at the mouths of salmons ...

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