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House approves bipartisan water, conservation bills

By Nicole Norman | 07/09/2024 06:34 AM EDT

Republicans are fast-tracking legislation to protect an Alabama underwater forest.

Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.).

House Natural Resources Chair Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) during floor debate Monday. House Television

The House approved legislation Monday to protect an ancient cypress forest off the coast of Alabama. It also cleared water and public land bills.

Lawmakers voted 349-19 for , the “Alabama Underwater Forest National Marine Sanctuary and Protection Act,” from Rep. Jerry Carl (R-Ala.).

The forest, discovered after Hurricane Ida in 2004, is home to trees scientists say are roughly 60,000 years old. The bill, which passed the Natural Resources Committee in May, would prohibit removal of the trees while allowing certain recreational activities.

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“This forest provides a window into our past in a way that is not found anywhere else on Earth,” said Natural Resources Chair Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.).

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