Obama orders one-year moratorium on road-building in national forests

2009-05-29 17:28:04 (GMT) (Caymanmama.com - Top Stories green News)

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Teton Range in Caribou-Targhee National Forest, Idaho

Boise, Idaho (CaymanMama.com) –Delivering on his promise to work on the environment and valuable, natural resources, President Barack Obama is moving to order a year-long moratorium on nearly all road construction and other developments on approximately 50 million acres of secluded national forests.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack released a directive Thursday restoring most of a Clinton administration prohibition on new road-building and development in national forests. The 2001 regulation put a ban on road-building and logging in over 58 million acres of remote national forests, predominantly in the West.

According to the Associated Press, “Environmental groups consider the road ban crucial since road-building is often the first step toward logging, drilling, mining and other development in the forest backcountry. Critics of the ban say roads are needed to fight wildfires and log small trees that otherwise could serve as fuel for catastrophic fires.”

Vilsack said his provisional directive — which takes effect right away — will clearly outline the protections set forth for national forests until the Obama administration creates a long-term roadless policy.

As part of the directive, Vilsack will be the sole decision maker over all “proposed forest management or road construction projects in designated roadless areas in all states” with the exception of Idaho.

Vilsack’s spokeswoman, Chris Mather, said that the Agriculture Secretary  is still able to approve roads if necessary, for example, to protect public safety or forest health.

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