President Obama needs only a stroke of his pen to set an example for the world on climate change by establishing federal forested reserves to store carbon in perpetuity, a national environmentalist said Tuesday in Boise.
William Meadows, president of the Wilderness Society, a national group that seeks to preserve wildlands, called on Obama to set up a National Forest Trust, a series of federal reserves chosen on the basis of their carbon density, to store the substance that contributes to global warming when released.
Among the forests that could be protected are the 9 million acres of old growth in Oregon, Washington and California already protected by former President Bill Clinton under the Northwest Forest Plan.
The forests of the Tongass National Forest in Alaska could also be put into the reserve, Meadows said. There, many trees are 300 years or older, with some in the Klamath Mountains that grew as seedlings six centuries ago.
"These trees store carbon not only in their massive above-ground structure and leaves, but also in the soil and roots that have spread like the Columbia River delta under each old-growth giant," Meadows said.
Other federal lands, including some of Idaho's 21 million acres of national forests with big, old trees, could be added by a panel of scientists who would determine where preservation is appropriate.
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