Washington, DC, May 3, 2001- The Competitive Enterprise Institute is urging the Bush administration to revoke the controversial “roadless rule” for national forests, which sets aside 58.5 million acres of land as off-limits to road building and is the subject of a federal lawsuit in Idaho. President Bush is expected to announce Friday morning, May 4, whether his administration will move to rescind the roadless designation, made by Bill Clinton in the last days of his presidency, or leave the rule in effect.
Depending on what course of action the White House announces, U.S. District Court Judge Edward Lodge will then make his ruling on whether the designation violates federal law, particularly the National Environmental Policy Act. The state of Idaho, the timber company Boise Cascade, and others are suing the federal government to halt implementation of the rule, which would essentially cut off most economic and recreational uses of the land and make effective forest management all but impossible.
“The main policy issue posed by the roadless rule designations is not whether there will, or should be, any roadless areas in the national forests,” said CEI Senior Fellow Dr. Robert H. Nelson. “The real issue that President Bush has to consider is whether there will be adequate flexibility in the future for managing these 58.5 million acres - nearly half of the national forest system. Losing the ability to build roads into many of these forest areas will mean more wildfires and unhealthy forests in the years ahead.”
The roadless rule has fostered an enormous amount of public resentment throughout the American West, a result acknowledged even by the U.S. Forest Service itself.
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Dr. Robert H. Nelson, Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, worked in the Office of Policy Analysis at the Department of the Interior for 18 years and is the author of three books on public land management, including A Burning Issue: The Case for Abolishing the U.S. Forest Service.
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