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Road ban provokes immediate reaction

It's a knife in the heart of northern Minnesota," said an irate Ernie Lund, the elder spokesman and advocate for Arrowhead region loggers. "He proved he's an enemy of northern Minnesota," said Lund, regarding President Bill Clinton's decision to ...

It's a knife in the heart of northern Minnesota," said an irate Ernie Lund, the elder spokesman and advocate for Arrowhead region loggers.
"He proved he's an enemy of northern Minnesota," said Lund, regarding President Bill Clinton's decision to approve the road and logging ban on national forest land.
Clinton announced the new federal regulations Friday, which Lund views as another blow to the local economy. The president's action has been controversial nationally and got prompt state and local response in Minnesota.
The semi-retired Orr resident is recovering from surgery but said he doesn't have time to rest with everything that's going on.
Lund campaigned hard for former Sen. Rod Grams, who supported logging and other forest users. He has also been on the front line against environmentalists who favor restrictions on using the forests.
And he has recently met with Sen. Mark Dayton and Rep. Jim Oberstar on logging issues.
Last summer, Lund was one of the many loggers who attended a hearing in Duluth on the proposal to limit national forest use. The new rules will affect about 60 million acres in 38 states.
The two-part session attracted more than 100 people, including environmentalists, hunters, ATV riders and cabin owners. Another hearing attracted a crowd in Grand Rapids.
In Minnesota, the proposal would affect parts of the Superior and Chippewa national forests. It prohibits new road construction and reconstruction in the unroaded portions of inventoried roadless areas.
It also prohibits timber harvesting, except for conservation purposes in those areas.
In the Chippewa National Forest near Grand Rapids, the affected area is very small. In Superior National Forest, which covers a large part of the Arrowhead region, the affected area would be about 62,000 acres. In all, about 42 percent of the Superior Forest has some level of federal designation.
Lund said that, while it doesn't sound like much, the impact on the Superior National Forest is significant.
In Wisconsin, the measure will affect the Chequamegon and Nicolet national forests.
Clinton announced his roadless initiative in October 1999. Months of public hearings and a comment period followed, leading to an environmental impact statement, which is the basis for the final rule.
In all, the Forest Service conducted about 600 public meetings across the country and received more than 1.6 million responses.
"There have been some bad things happening to northern Minnesota lately," said Lund, "and this is another one."
"We think it's a good thing," said Darrell Spencer with the Izaak Walton League. "We're excited about it. We passed a statewide resolution supporting it."
Spencer had spoken in favor of the proposal at the Duluth hearing and thought there was some confusion about the initiative.
"All it says is 'no new roads,'" he said. "There are enough roads; I can't imagine any more roads in Superior National Forest."
The Sierra Club also celebrated Clinton's action.
"Right now, logging and road building are allowed to occur almost everywhere else in the forest, including right up to wilderness boundaries," said Jill Walker with the North Star Chapter. "It's important to protect other parts of the forest as well, so that people are not confined to the BWCAW, and so that wild and natural characteristics are allowed to exist outside of one designated wilderness area."
Wayne Brandt, executive vice president of the Minnesota Timber Producers Association is as irate as Lund.
"It's another needless and groundless effort of this administration to drive the forest products industry in the U.S. out of business," said Brandt. "Our industry is competitive in the world market and would be even more competitive if the administration would stop harassing it."
Brandt, who expects a legal challenge to the measure, said the whole purpose seems to be locking up land. He emphasized there were no benefits cited for measure, which will also affect both state and county land located in the Superior National Forest.
Gov. Jesse Ventura voiced his concern about the roadless measure in a letter on Friday to Dan Glickman, secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Forest Service.
Ventura said he is concerned about the effects on state-owned land and mineral interests within the inventoried roadless areas in Minnesota.
He has requested that the Forest Service assign a high priority to exchanging these lands for equivalent federal lands outside the affected areas.
The governor listed eight additional concerns about the roadless measure and asked for a representative of Glickman's office to meet with Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials about the exchange.
Shortly after Clinton launched the measure Friday, Oberstar announced his "State of the Industry" timber tour. On Tuesday and Wednesday, he will visit loggers and paper mills to get a local perspective and probably an earful on how federal regulations are affecting the industry.
Cindy Chojancky, with the Forest Service, said because the new rule has an economic impact of more than $100 million, Congress has 60 days to review the measure before it can go into effect,
On Thursday, the U.S. Forest Service announced a new forest road management project to deal with existing roads. One of the issues it will address is the growing number of recreational vehicles in the forests, compared to the number of logging trucks.

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