Committee schedules vote on Gulf of Mexico sanctuary

By Rob Hotakainen | 05/06/2024 06:34 AM EDT

The legislation would grant federal protection to an underwater cypress forest off the coast of Alabama.

Underwater forest off Alabama's coast.

A brightly colored fish hiding within the wood of Alabama's underwater forest. NOAA

The House Natural Resources Committee will vote this week on a bill that would designate a 60,000-year-old underwater forest off the Alabama coast as a new national marine sanctuary.

The bill, H.R. 897, sponsored by Alabama Republican Rep. Jerry Carl, would grant federal protection to the ancient cypress forest located 60 feet underwater in the Gulf of Mexico, located just a few miles south of Gulf Shores, Alabama.

While the legislation would prohibit the cutting or removing of any trees or additional drilling in the seabed, the bill would still allow fishing, diving, and some other recreational and commercial activities.


“Just like Yellowstone and Yosemite, this forest should be accessible to tourists while protecting it from disruptive activity,” Carl told the Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries during a hearing in January. “And this bill does just that.”