Ever eager to leave a green legacy, Pres. Clinton will announce an initiative next week to protect up to 40 million acres of national forest land in 35 states from commercial development. The directive will ask the U.S. Forest Service to analyze how best to protect forest land that is still undeveloped and roadless, much of it in the West, particularly the Rocky Mountain states and California. The scale of the proposal is dramatic: It would protect an area equal in size to Virginia and West Virginia combined, encompassing more than 20 percent of the national forest system. The administration believes the undertaking can be accomplished without congressional approval, but a number of Western lawmakers will surely try to undermine the effort. Enviros are mostly optimistic about the plan, though they are concerned that the nation’s biggest national forest, the Tongass in Alaska, might not be included in it.

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