SAN FRANCISCO - A federal magistrate judge Tuesday scaled back a 2006 decision that reinstated a Clinton-era ban against new road construction and development on millions of acres of national forest.

Two years ago, Judge Elizabeth Laporte in San Francisco invalidated a 2005 Bush administration rule that overturned the 2001 Roadless Rule, which protected 58.5 million acres of federal land in about 40 states.

But in August, a federal judge in Wyoming invalidated President Clinton's Roadless Rule, prompting the Bush administration to request that the two judges modify their conflicting rulings.

In response, Laporte reduced the geographic scope of her 2006 ruling, so that the road construction ban would only apply to national forests in 10 western states.

Laporte's move is only a temporary fix. Federal appeals courts in San Francisco and Denver both are expected to rule on the case next year.

- The Associated Press

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