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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL)

Oct 27, 2020

Press Release

Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) today introduced the Alabama Underwater Forest National Marine Sanctuary and Protection Act. His bill would designate the site, an ancient cypress forest found sixty feet underwater south of Gulf Shores, as a National Marine Sanctuary.

Byrne said: “The underwater forest is another unique Alabama gem with global importance.  As the only known site where a coastal ice age forest this old has been preserved in place, we must take action now to protect it.  The Alabama Underwater Forest National Marine Sanctuary and Protection Act protects Alabamians ability to fish, dive, and recreate at the site while ensuring none of its invaluable artifacts can be removed or damaged.  This designation will also open up further tourism opportunities along our Gulf Coast.

“I would like to thank Ben Raines, whose work with me after his discovery of the site has been instrumental in crafting this bill.”

National Marine Sanctuaries (NMS) are areas of protected marine structures and ecosystems.  The National Marine Sanctuaries Act (NMSA) defines NMSs as being “areas of the marine environment which have special conservation, recreational, ecological, historical, cultural, archeological, scientific, educational, or esthetic qualities.”  An NMS can be designated either through administrative action by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) or through legislative action by Congress.  Byrne’s bill would ensure protections to prevent restrictions on fishing, diving, and anchoring on the site.

The site, located in federal waters, was discovered by Ben Raines after the cypress trees were uncovered by waves associated with Hurricane Ivan.