Lawsuit seeks to reimpose development regulations on Tongass

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Twenty-two tribal, environmental, fishing and tourism organizations are suing the 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 Wednesday.

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% of the commercially-caught salmon in the region and 25% 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 on Wednesday.

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

The Associated Press