Phil Clapp of the National Environmental Trust said Veneman's eventual successor might have a keener interest in protecting federal lands than did Veneman, whom he described as more interested in traditional farm issues rather than forestry.
The comments came during a conference call on a new campaign to derail or modify the Bush administration's plans to open roadless areas of National Forests to logging, energy development and mining.
Clapp predicted the proposals could become a significant issue in the confirmation of the new secretary.
Veneman was saluted Monday by the agriculture lobby for her work in improving U.S. commodity exports and dealing with mad cow and other livestock diseases.
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