U.S. Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck said in a speech yesterday that the era of extensive road-building in national forests is over and that the administration would release a new proposal to close forest roads within a few weeks. Roads have gone from being a capital improvement to a liability, Dombeck told the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, and since the USFS budget only includes enough money to maintain about 17 percent of its roads, the agency is proceeding with a new plan that could ultimately result in closure of the rest. Dombeck said that road decommissioning and maintenance would provide jobs in rural communities that have been hit hard by recent logging restrictions. Dombeck also said that the value of forests as watersheds may be greater than their value as sources of timber.
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