Roadless Area Rule May Be Reborn

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Environmental groups are urging president-elect Barack Obama to support a federal policy that would protect national forests, including 384,000 acres in Virginia.

"It's all about keeping wild places wild," former U.S. Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck said Monday in a teleconference with legislators and advocacy groups.

At issue is the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, issued eight years ago by former President Bill Clinton. The rule preserves 58 million acres of the country's most pristine national forestland in 38 states.

…The current administration has been "almost myopic in its efforts to reverse the rule," said Wilderness Society President William Meadows, who joined the teleconference with Dombeck and U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., who leads the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands.

…Grijalva said he expects Obama to support the original version of the rule, which has been called one of the most important land protection measures in recent years. "It's an important statement that needs to be made early on" by the Obama administration, Grijalva said.