May 29, 2009 in Nation/World

Risch praises state exemption

Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho – Sen. Jim Risch is cheering an Obama administration decision to exempt Idaho from a new moratorium on road building in federal forests across the West.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued a directive Thursday reinstating for one year most of a Clinton-era ban against new road construction and development in national forests. That rule covered activities in more than 58 million acres of remote national forests.

As governor in 2006, Risch, a Republican, helped craft Idaho’s own management plan for its 9.3 million acres of roadless federal forest. Vilsack said federal forests in Idaho will remain under state control.

Risch said that’s great news considering all the hard work that went into the state plan.

The Idaho plan designates 5.3 million acres as “backcountry/restoration,” which could lead to road building to improve species habitat or reduce fire risk.

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