President Clinton announced
on Friday the final issuance of rules closing almost 60 million acres of land in U.S. forests to
road construction and repair and commercial timber cutting in an action hotly opposed by governors of
energy-strapped western states.
Forest Service Final Rule -- "Special
Areas; Roadless Area Conservation" -- issued after over a year of study and congressional hearings by the
U.S. Forest Service,
prohibits road construction in 58.5 million acres, or about one-third of
all national forest land from New Hampshire to Washington state.
this Executive Memorandum of Oct. 13, 1999,
President Clinton first ordered the Forest Service to "develop, and propose
for public comment, regulations to provide appropriate long-term protection for
most or all of these currently inventoried 'roadless' areas, and to determine
whether such protection is warranted for any smaller 'roadless' areas not yet
inventoried." The result being the Final Rule announced on Friday.
cheered by environmentalists,
governors of western states now faced with soaring electricity costs, shortages
and blackouts due to shrinking supplies of natural gas and fuel oil, have vowed
to get Forest Service rule overturned.
Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska), stated that the land involved by the ban could
hold up to 23 trillion cubic feet of natural gas -- enough to supply the entire
U.S. for a year.
heads the Senate Energy committee, and has long suggest that more federal lands,
rather than less, be opened to petroleum exploration in order to lessen
America's dependence on high-priced imported oil. The U.S. now imports over half
of all petroleum used nationwide.
resident groups in and around national forests who depend on forest roads for
access to work, schools, hospitals, shopping and other vital community services
also hotly oppose the no-roads order. Some forest road user groups have even
vowed to defy the federal order and maintain the roads themselves.
rule bans new construction and repair of roads and timber cutting in undeveloped
areas, except as necessary to reduce wildfire risks. According to the Forest
Service, 380,000 miles of roads already exist in the national forests, with many
roads badly in need of repair.
states affected by the rule include: (Click for maps)
- 4,416,000 acres
- 2,015,000 acres
The Final Rule is -- 36
CFR Part 294 -- "Special Areas; Roadless Area Conservation"
Maps of forest areas in all states affected by the rule , along with much
more information on the process leading up to the rule can be found on the
Forest Service's Roadless Area
Conservation Web site.
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