Pres. Clinton today moved to put almost a third of the country’s national forestland forever off-limits to road-building and commercial logging. The rule to protect 58.5 million acres of land will effectively prohibit oil and gas drilling as well, and could go a long way toward limiting off-road vehicle access. The road-building ban covers big pieces of the Tongass National Forest in Alaska that were exempted in a draft proposal of the rule. “This is a great moment in history,” said Ken Rait, who as director of the Heritage Forests Campaign helped lead the enviro effort to get the rule enacted. But Alaska Republican Sens. Ted Stevens and Frank Murkowski said they would fight the rule, and Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne (R) vowed to sue over the issue. Proponents of the rule said that the incoming Bush administration would have to conduct extensive public hearings and find a strong reason to reverse the rule before it could do so.
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