America’s largest national forest — the Tongass in Alaska — has been given another year’s reprieve from most logging and mining by the Obama administration. Protecting the forest has long been the focus of Earthjustice legal efforts. As reported by the Associated Press:
The Obama administration Friday extended for another year the moratorium on most logging and mining in millions of acres of remote and rugged backcountry sections of national forests.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said from Washington, D.C., he wants to continue to give decisions on projects in roadless areas a higher level of scrutiny while waiting for federal courts to resolve the legal issues.
The idea of preserving roadless areas for wildlife habitat and clean water came out of the Clinton administration. The Bush administration tried to open them up to more logging and mining by giving states control.
"The roadless rule stands to this day as the most significant forest conservation measure to happen in our lifetimes," said Marty Hayden, legislative director for Earthjustice. "You’ve got something on the order of 60 million Americans whose water literally begins in our national forests, and most of that water begins in roadless areas."