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Jan 26, 2012 6:37 AM by Kate Richards

New rules in the forest could mean big changes

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration says new rules to manage nearly 200 million acres of national forests will protect watersheds and wildlife while promoting uses ranging from recreation to logging.

The new rules, to replace guidelines thrown out by a federal court in 2009, are to be released Thursday by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. A summary was obtained by The Associated Press.

Vilsack said in an interview that the new rules strengthen a draft plan released last year by requiring decisions to be based on the best available science. The plan also recognizes that forests are used for a variety of purposes.

Vilsack said the rules will encourage forest restoration and watershed protection while creating opportunities for the timber industry and those who use the forest for recreation.

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