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Clinton Halts Road Work in US Forests
Part 1: Western governors vow to get rule overturned
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• Part 2: White House Fact Sheet 
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Final Rule as Adopted
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Impact Statement
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Dateline: 01/06/01

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.

The 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. 

In 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.

Though 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.

U.S. 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.

Murkowski 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.

Many 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.

The 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.

Some states affected by the rule include: (Click for maps)

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.

Next page > White House Fact Sheet on Final Rule > Page 1, 2

 

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