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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Environment - "Ban on New Forest Roads Upheld by Federal Judge"

Another west coast federal district court decision potentially impacting Indiana today. The LA Times reports, in a lengthy story by Tim Reiterman:

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge has restored broad protection to about one-third of national forestland in the lower 48 states, rejecting efforts by the Bush administration to relax a ban on new road building and logging in the most pristine forests.

The decision by U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte gives new life to a hotly contested environmental decree, a Clinton administration policy that sought to protect the parts of the forests that don't yet have any roads in them, including 4.3 million acres in California.

The policy responded to concerns that areas of the forests that are sanctuaries for wildlife and reservoirs of clean water would be damaged by logging and other types of development.

America's national forests, once the province of timber companies and only the most intrepid outdoor enthusiasts, have become destinations for millions of people — hikers and skiers; hunters and fishermen; river rafters and mountain bikers — many of whom seek out the least disturbed areas.

In her ruling Tuesday, Laporte declared that the Bush administration could not weaken the ban until it complied with requirements of the federal Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

While the ruling does not put an end to the controversy, environmentalists and state officials believe that it will make it difficult for federal officials to allow the cutting of many trees or building of new roads across the nearly 44 million acres of forest at issue.

A list at the end of the story indicates that 8,000 acres in Indiana are potentially affected.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 21, 2006 04:00 PM
Posted to Environment