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Daily Newscasts

"Roadless" Hearing Could Impact Minnesota Forests

November 29, 2006

St. Paul, MN - A hearing in Washington today that will consider opening federally designated "roadless areas" to commercial development is being closely followed in Minnesota. A Forest Service advisory committee is considering an Idaho petition to open up protected lands there to development.

Christopher Cox with the National Environmental Trust in Minnesota says if the request is granted, it would set a precedent that could hit home.

"If Idaho's roadless area is to be opened up to commercial interest, what's to stop them from coming straight over here to Minnesota and hitting up our 56,000 acres of roadless area?"

Roadless area designation preserves some of the nation's most pristine lands from commercial development. However, proponents of the Idaho plan say it will create jobs and boost the local economy.

But Cox notes roadless areas provide buffers that protect the state's waterways, wildlife, and history.

"Some of Minnesota's most beautiful areas are near Lake Superior. And, I don't think any of us would like to see a bunch of 'Motel 6s' put in place of all the beautiful trees and the beachfronts."

Today's hearing by the Roadless Area Conservation National Advisory Committee will consider a petition by Idaho Governor Jim Risch to exempt his state from a recent federal judge's ruling which restored roadless-area protections in all states.

More information is available online at or

Jim Wishner/Eric Mack, Public News Service - MN