Department of Agriculture to Halt Road Building, Logging in America's Forests

New rule will protect more than 50 million acres, including the Tongass National Forest

San Francisco (May 28, 2009) -- The Obama administration today announced it is issuing a one-year moratorium on road building and development on about 50 million acres of remote national forests, including the Tongass National Forest in Alaska.

Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued a directive reinstating most of a Clinton-era ban against new road construction and development in national forests. The 2001 rule banned road building and logging in more than 50 million acres of remote national forests, mostly in the West.

Following is a statement by Niel Lawrence, senior attorney and forest project director for the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“With this action, President Obama is demonstrating his clear commitment to protecting the natural heritage of the American people. A moratorium on road building will provide vital protection for the Tongass and other national forests. In the Bush era, officials worked tirelessly to undermine the 2001 Roadless Rule -- President Clinton’s enormously popular conservation landmark -- and opened up millions of acres of pristine forests to clear cutting and road building. We look forward to the day when the Obama administration puts an end to this sad legacy and achieves the full implementation of the 2001 Roadless Rule.”  

Note: This release was updated to reflect that the moratorium will protect 50 million acres, not 58 million acres.