Many U.S. environmentalists are celebrating today after the Clinton administration unveiled a new version of its plan to protect roadless national forest lands. The plan has been expanded to encompass the huge Tongass National Forest in Alaska, a change enviros had been lobbying for, though activists are disappointed that protections wouldn’t be extended to the Tongass until 2004. The latest version of the plan will ban road-building and commercial logging on 58.5 million acres. The feds received more than 1.5 million public comments on the first version of its plan, released in May; most comments were from people seeking broader protections for forest areas. U.S. Forest Service officials intend to make the plan final in mid-December, a month before President Clinton leaves office. If George W. Bush becomes the next president, the plan’s future is in doubt.

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