"No logging or road project on tens of millions of forested acres will proceed without personal approval by the Agriculture Department's secretary for at least a year while the Obama administration decides how to handle a controversial Clinton-era roadless rule, officials said today.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is signing a directive giving himself sole power to make decisions for one year on building roads and harvesting timber on nearly all of the areas covered by the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule. The directive can be renewed for an additional year, the department said. It covers roadless areas in Alaska but will not apply to those in Idaho, which wrote its own roadless area plan. ...
During the presidential campaign, Obama expressed his support for the roadless rule, which granted blanket protection to about 58 million acres of federal land nationwide but has been mired in legal battles ever since President Clinton put it in place just before leaving office.
Conflicting court decisions on the rule have made it difficult for the Forest Service 'to do its job,' USDA said. The directive will allow time for 'relevant court cases' to proceed, the agency said."
Noelle Straub and Eric Bontrager report for Greenwire in the New York Times May 28, 2009.