Will the nation benefit from a timeout for national forest development? Last week the Obama administration issued a one-year moratorium on road-building, logging and other development on more than 50 million acres of national forests, including the Tongass National Forest in Alaska. Under the plan, only Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will have authority to approve new projects on lands covered by the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule. The rule does not apply to Idaho, where a roadless plan has already been authorized.
Is this a good way to handle forest management while the U.S. Forest Service develops a long-term policy for dealing with the inventoried roadless areas within the national forest and grasslands regions? Or is it inappropriate and entirely political? Is this decision a sign of how the Obama administration will handle future disputes over oil and gas drilling, logging and other commercial development on federal lands?