Forest Plan Bars Road Building

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Washington, DC, May 10--The U.S. Forest Service outlined a proposal Tuesday, in the form of a draft environmental impact statement, that effectively bans road building on the 43 million acres of inventoried roadless areas in national forests across the country.

The ban, which does not affect the many smaller roadless areas that have not been inventoried by the federal government, is a follow-up to President Clinton's pledge of last October to preserve national forests. But according to some environmentalists, the new proposal doesn't go nearly as far as they had hoped because it continues to allow logging and the use of off-road vehicles.

"When you consider that it could have been more stringent and restrictive, you can look at this in a positive light," said Geraldine Hughes, director of public policy for the National Ski Areas Association. It means that ski resorts on national forest land with expansion plans will face different situations.

By concentrating on inventoried roadless areas, Hughes said the good news is that the administration is kicking the fate of the other areas back to the local forest planning process, but that it becomes important for resorts to "get into the forest plan revision process, follow it closely and make comments." Comments on this national proposal will be taken at 300 public hearings to be held across the country over the next two months.