Conservation groups are asking for endangered species protection for yellow cedar trees in Alaska. The trees have been dying off in portions of Southeast over the past century. Scientists say it’s likely due to a warming climate and lack of snow cover for vulnerable roots.
The groups say logging also poses a threat to the cedar trees on the Tongass National Forest.
Kiersten Lippmann is a biologist with The Center for Biological Diversity and says the cedar decline in Southeast Alaska is drastic.
“The reason we’re doing this now is we’re seeing, especially in Alaska, the timber industry is targeting the remaining living cedar,” Lippmann said. “It’s kind of like when the buffalo were dying out, people would go out and hunt the last buffalo because it was their last chance to get them.”
Other petitioners are the Boat Company, Greenpeace and the Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Community.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it will review the petition to determine whether the species status deserves further review. That finding is supposed to take 90 days.
There’s only one plant in Alaska on the endangered species list – that’s the Aleutian shield fern, which is found on Adak Island.