PARK IT

Collateral Damage

A Bush administration plan to allow roads, timber cutting and mining in 58.5 million acres of currently protected U.S. Forest Service land threatens the scenery and environmental integrity of at least 23 national parks, says a new study by the Campaign to Protect America's Lands, a D.C. conservation group.

Often when you're in a national park, part of what you're seeing is national forest -- i.e., land administered by the U.S. Forest Service -- adjacent to or surrounding the park.

To study the impact of Bush's plan, experts overlaid maps of national parks with maps of national forests. The study thus identified national parks whose scenery and environmental integrity are dependent on surrounding forests. Yellowstone and Yosemite are among the 23 national parks under "imminent threat," according to the report.

Closer to home, the report shows that just over half of the scenery along the Blue Ridge Parkway is Park Service land, while the rest is national forest about to lose its current protection. Directors of the Park and Forest Services said in a press release that the agencies will work together to protect affected parks.

Although conservationists will fight the Bush plan, barring an injunction, change could come quickly. "The comment period ends Sept. 14," said Philip Clapp of the National Environment Trust, a conservation group. "Any time after that, the administration can adopt a plan and begin selling rights to timber, gas, oil and mining interests."

Details: www. protectamericaslands.org and www.roadless.fs.fed.us.

upright and locked

Airline by Another Name

Call it what you like; the largest airline within Peru remains off-limits to Americans.

Saying that the owner of AeroContinente is a drug kingpin, the U.S. Treasury Department last month ordered that Americans not fly the airline. Insurers responded by refusing to sell the airline insurance, which in turn caused the Peruvian government to ground it.

More recently, the airline reemerged as Nuevo Continente, and some travel agents are booking Americans on its flights. But they and their clients are risking fines and even jail time. (Violations of the Kingpin Act carry penalties of up to $10 million and 30 years, although penalties would likely be a lot less.)

"People under U.S. jurisdiction cannot engage in business or transactions with AeroContinente or any of its AKAs [also known as], such as Nuevo Continente," said Treasury spokeswoman Molly Millerwise. "Travel agents should not be booking travel on either of the airlines or any additional AKAs, should there be any."

security watch

Embassy Contacts

Americans have long been urged to register with the U.S. embassy or consulate when traveling abroad, particularly if traveling longer than a month in a politically unstable country or in one experiencing civil unrest or a natural disaster. Now, the U.S. State Department has made it easy by creating a way to register online.

Registering allows the embassy to contact you in case of emergency -- letting you know of problems at home or alerting you to problems where you are. U.S. embassies assist about 200,000 Americans a year who are victims of crime, accidents or illness, or because family and friends need to contact them about an emergency. Registration is free and voluntary.

To register, go to www.travel.state.gov, click on "International Travel" and choose "Registration With Embassies" from the left-hand column.

BARGAIN OF THE WEEK

Munich for Less

Fly to Munich this summer for $517 round trip, including taxes. Details: What's the Deal?, Page P3.

Reporting: Cindy Loose.

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