Roadless plan toothless

The eventual impact on Georgia's Chattahoochee National Forest has yet to be determined, but President Bush's half-measure endorsement last Friday of a ban on road-building and logging in nearly 60 million acres of national forest is being criticized by environmentalists as a gutting of the protection policy signed by Bill Clinton during his final weeks in office.

Although the administration announced it plans to implement the policy May 12, officials said they would allow modifications on a forest-by-forest basis, which could effectively exempt certain areas from protection.

"This is an end-run of the public will in favor of timber and mining interests," says the Sierra Club's Bryan Hager of Atlanta. "They are trying to dismantle the roadless rule, pure and simple, and the legacy will be polluted streams and denuded hillsides."

Environmentalists also complain that federal lawyers have done little to defend the policy from a serious legal challenge it still faces from the giant Boise Cascade timber company in Oregon.??

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