Donate Sign up for e-network
CENTER for BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY Because life is good

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Find out more from the Center for Biological Diversity:
Roadless Area Conservation
Los Angeles Times, May 28, 2009

Obama administration supports a timeout on road building in national forests
The land-protection policy has been fought by the timber industry and was undercut by the Bush administration, but Obama championed it while campaigning.

By Jim Tankersley

Reporting from Washington -- The U.S. Forest Service will announce a "timeout" on new road-building and other development in designated roadless areas of national forests today, sources say, prolonging a seesaw battle over a policy first announced in the waning days of the Clinton administration.

The Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which former President Clinton issued shortly before leaving office in 2001, protects nearly 60 million acres of national forest land from logging and other development, largely in Western states. It has faced a protracted court battle that pitted conservation groups against the timber industry and several of those states.

The Bush administration let the rule stand but effectively undercut it by exempting large swaths of land from its protections, including parts of the Tongass National Forest in Alaska, and by allowing states to petition to set their own rules for development in those areas.

President Obama voiced support for the Clinton rule on the campaign trail.

Since Inauguration Day, environmentalists have pressed the Obama administration to call the road-building "time out" and to instruct the Justice Department, which continues to defend some of the Bush policies in court, to change course and defend the original rule.

Obama's proposed "timeout" is "needed and welcome," said Trip Van Noppen, president of the environmental group Earthjustice. "Roadless areas are important as the last remaining pristine areas in America, and they are a great bulwark in how we will protect our environment in an era of climate change.

Copyright 2009 Los Angeles Times

Photo © Paul S. Hamilton