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Rep. Jerry Carl’s bill protecting underwater forest in Gulf of Mexico passes U.S. House

Congressman Jerry Carl (R-Mobile) has announced that legislation to help protect and promote the Underwater Forest in the Gulf of Mexico has officially passed the U.S. House of Representatives as of Monday.

Per the Alabama Underwater Forest National Marine Sanctuary and Protection Act, authored by Carl, the 60,000-year-old forest located a few miles off the coast of Gulf Shores would be classified as a National Marine Sanctuary. The legislation would also place a ban on removing or harvesting any parts of the forest and bring oil and gas drilling in the area to a halt. Several recreational activities at the site would still be permitted.

“This is an important measure to safeguard Alabama’s ancient underwater cypress forest,” said Rep. Carl on the House floor. “Importantly, this bill strikes a balance between conservation and recreational use of this site. By designating the underwater forest as a national marine sanctuary, we are preserving a one of a kind, 60,000-year-old natural marvel. There isn’t anything quite like it.”
“The underwater forest offers an opportunity for recreational opportunities, such as scuba diving and fishing. The bill ensures that the site remains protected, prohibited from removal of ancient trees while allowing responsible access for the public.”

“Just like Yellowstone or Yosemite, this forest should be accessible tourists while protecting from disruptive activities and this bill does just that.”

The forest, uncovered after Hurricane Ivan in 2004, would be the first recognized sanctuary in Alabama waters and just the third in the Gulf of Mexico. In total there are 16 marine sanctuaries, overseen by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

All members of the Alabama congressional delegation voted in favor of the bill with the exception of Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise), who was marked as not voting.

Austen Shipley is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on X @ShipleyAusten

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