Sen. James A. McClure (R-Idaho) said the U.S. Forest Service's plans to sell $200 million worth of National Forest land in fiscal 1984 are "in limbo," because the agency won't tell Congress which tracts will be put up for sale.

At a hearing of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee, Assistant Agriculture Secretary John B. Crowell Jr. said the Forest Service has identified 6 million acres already, but the agency wants Congress to give it the authority to conduct the sales before spending money on additional reviews. About 240,000 acres are to be sold in fiscal 1984.

The first group of properties includes 47,402 acres of forest land in Virginia. Tract books delineating the specific parcels are available at individual forest ranger stations and at the Forest Service's land management headquarters in Rosslyn.

McClure said, "Clearly we aren't going to give you authority to conduct sales without knowing what you're going to sell."

"We don't want to spend the funds until we have the authority to sell," retorted Crowell. "Put enough safeguards in the legislation to allow us to proceed."

"The whole thing is in limbo," McClure concluded. "You're describing a standoff."