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Hatch lauds roadless ruling

Washington - Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) lauded the Forest Service's new rule giving states greater flexibility in managing Utah's 4 million acres of roadless forest land.

"This rule strikes the right balance between federal land managers and state officials," Hatch said. "When this process started, the Clinton Administration blatantly locked out local and state leaders and implemented the wish lists of the most extreme environmentalists. I am grateful the forest service has determined that strong federal and state cooperation is the best way to conserve these roadless areas."

The new rule will affect 58.5 million acres of national forest land, and Utah has the sixth-largest roadless area in the nation. Under the new policy, roadless areas could be opened to road construction and later possibly allow logging, mining and other industry and recreational uses.

The forest service now intends to seek input from governors for the planned management of inventoried roadless areas, which often contain state and private lands that are ultimately affected by federal management plans. Governors have 18 months to submit their plans to either challenge old efforts to stop development or endorse proposals that would allow it.

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