Protect a 60,000-Year-Old Underwater Forest

22,581 signatures toward our 30,000 Goal

75.27% Complete

Sponsor: Free The Ocean

What's been hidden and protected for 60,000 years could be destroyed in just a few. 


Submerged below the ocean's surface, just off the coast of Alabama, are the remains of an ancient forest of cypress trees that grew during the Ice Age, 60,000 years ago.

 

At some point, 10s of 1000s of years ago, the Gulf of Mexico flooded the forest. In 2004, giant waves driven by Hurricane Ivan uncovered the trees preserved from decomposition beneath the sediment. It wasn't until years later that environmental journalist Ben Raines discovered the submerged trees - the oldest known forest under the ocean.

Mostly kept secret since its discovery, there's so much to learn from the ancient forest: Collecting information on Ice Age-era climate, insects, and plants... and studying marine creatures living in the trees could lead to life-saving medicines. Unfortunately, it's now threatened by those wanting to exploit the trees for profit, as salvage companies seek to dig up the ancient logs and sell them. There's even a permit submitted from a furniture company to remove the ancient trees to make tables and chairs!

The good news is there's still time to protect this magnificent underwater forest. A bill is under review in the House Committee on Natural Resources that would designate the site as a marine sanctuary - H.R. 8684, Alabama Underwater Forest National Marine Sanctuary and Protection Act.

Many bills under review never make it out of committee to get voted on... but we can help make this happen! Let's act now.

Sign the petition to tell the Natural Resources Committee Chairman, Raúl M. Grijalva, you want this underwater forest protected!

More on this issue:

  1. Alicia Lee, CNN (8 April 2020), "Scientists uncover a 60,000-year-old forest underwater and think its preserved trees may help pioneer new medicines."
  2. Paola Rosa-Aquino, The Guardian (20 January 2021), "'One of a Kind': Calls to Protect Alabama's 60,000-Year-Old underwater forest."
  3. This Is Alabama (23 October 2017), "The Underwater Forest."
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The Petition:

Dear Raúl Grijalva,

The recently discovered underwater forest off the coast of Alabama, is home to the remains of ancient cypress trees that grew during the Ice Age - 60,000 years ago. It's the oldest known forest under the ocean. We have so much to learn from this ancient forest, including studying marine creatures living in the trees which could lead to life-saving medicines.

The submerged trees and magical underwater forest has been mostly kept secret since its discovery but it is now threatened by people wanting to exploit the trees for profit - as salvage companies seek to dig up the ancient logs and sell them.

There is still time to act to protect this magnificent, ancient treasure. If the bill under your review in the House Committee on Natural Resources is passed, it would designate the site as a marine sanctuary. Please approve H.R. 8684, Alabama Underwater Forest National Marine Sanctuary and Protection Act - this 60,000 year-old underwater forest is worth protecting!

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Signatures: