Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Waterfall on Baranof Island, Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska. (Photo: Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images)

With Amazon in Flames, Trump Moves to Open 16.7 Million-Acre Alaskan Rainforest to Corporate Exploitation

"If the planet could talk, it would be screaming in agony or weeping in despair. Maybe both."

Jake Johnson

President Donald Trump has reportedly ordered the U.S. Department of Agriculture to open Alaska's 16.7 million-acre Tongass National Forest—the planet's largest intact temperate rainforest—to logging and other corporate development projects, a move that comes as thousands of fires are ripping through the Amazon rainforest and putting the "lungs of the world" in grave danger.

The Washington Post, citing anonymous officials briefed on the president's instructions, reported late Tuesday that Trump's policy change would lift 20-year-old logging restrictions that "barred the construction of roads in 58.5 million acres of undeveloped national forest across the country."

The move, according to the Post, would affect more than half of the Tongass National Forest, "opening it up to potential logging, energy, and mining projects."

The logging restrictions have been under near-constant assault by Republicans since they were implemented, but federal courts have allowed them to stand. As the Post reported:

Trump's decision to weigh in, at a time when Forest Service officials had planned much more modest changes to managing the agency's single largest holding, revives a battle that the previous administration had aimed to settle.

In 2016, the agency finalized a plan to phase out old-growth logging in the Tongass within a decade. Congress has designated more than 5.7 million acres of the forest as wilderness, which must remain undeveloped under any circumstances. If Trump's plan succeeds, it could affect 9.5 million acres...

John Schoen, a retired wildlife ecologist who worked in the Tongass for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, co-authored a 2013 research paper finding that roughly half of the forest's large old-growth trees had been logged last century. The remaining big trees provide critical habitat for black bear, Sitka black-tailed deer, a bird of prey called the Northern Goshawk and other species, he added.

Environmentalists were quick to voice outrage at the U.S. president's reported move and draw comparisons between Trump and his Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro, who has rapidly accelerated deforestation in the Amazon.

"If the planet could talk," wrote volcanologist Jess Phoenix, "it would be screaming in agony or weeping in despair. Maybe both."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Despite Housing Crisis, Mississippi May Return Up to Millions in Federal Rent Aid to DC

"For them to suggest people like me aren't working? It's a slap in the face," said one woman affected by the end of the pandemic assistance program. "It's very insulting and degrading."

Brett Wilkins ·


80% of US Voters Across Party Lines Support Expanding Social Security

"With Republicans threatening to cut benefits—and worse, eliminate the program entirely—Dems need to make clear they're fighting to protect and expand benefits."

Jessica Corbett ·


Rich Nations Again Accused of Vaccine Hoarding as UK OKs Moderna Omicron Booster

"While countries like the U.K. buy updated vaccines for their fourth doses, people in low- and middle-income countries are fighting today's variants with yesterday's vaccines."

Brett Wilkins ·


With Trumpian Claims of Cheating, Starbucks Demands Halt to Union Elections

"Unfortunately, it's now in vogue for the losers of some elections nationwide to attempt to reverse elections by any means they think are necessary," said Starbucks Workers United.

Jake Johnson ·


Richest Country on Earth to One of Its Poorest: We're Keeping the Money We Stole From You

A foreign affairs columnist called the move by the Biden administration a "shortsighted, morally unconscionable, and potentially calamitous decision for a country on the cusp of universal poverty."

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo