02 Mar

Keeping America great: preservation and conservation are the roots of American democracy

At 16.7 million acres, the Tongass National Forest sprawls across the misty southeast portion of the state of Alaska, a partial temperate rainforest that ranks as the largest national forest in the United States. To quote President Trump, “It’s huuuge.”

Each of the million visitors who passes through the Tongass every year can experience all that the wooded forests and rambling rivers hold within, such as five different species of Pacific salmon, the Sitka black-tailed deer, grizzly bears, and the ultimate symbol of freedom in America, the bald eagle.

Preservation of the Tongass and its stunning natural beauty is woven into the narrative of our country’s history dating back to the early 1900s, when it became a special interest of President Teddy Roosevelt upon his inauguration. Roosevelt’s first move for the region was to establish the neighboring Alexander Archipelago Forest Reserve, which consisted of protected islands, in 1902. In 1907, the addition of the first iteration of the Tongass National Forest was designated as a federally protected forest. The following year, both the Tongass and the 1,100 islands of the Alexander Archipelago Forest Reserve were combined, encompassing most of Southeast Alaska.

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