U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will review any new roads or projects in roadless areas in the national forests or grasslands. There is, however, no moratorium on new projects. Steve Miller, with the Rapid City Journal, sorts out the confusion stemming from an AP report Thursday that had Vilsack imposing a one-year moratorium on road building on 50 million acres of national forests — reinstating a Clinton-era ban on road building and logging on remote national forests, mostly in the rest.
Miller explains that there is no moratorium, but that new projects must go through an additional procedural step — approval by the Secretary. “The actual language in this order reserves to the secretary the right to approve road construction or reconstruction and the cutting, sale or removal of timber in inventoried roadless areas,” a USDA spokesperson told the South Dakota reporter.
In South Dakota, at least, the new order won’t have much effect. There are three roadless areas in the Black Hills National Forest, and they’ll remain roadless for the foreseeable future, according to Miller.