Protecting wetlands

US PRESIDENT Bill Clinton has proposed a package of measures that would afford additional protection to Alaska's wetlands, but also ease some of the present restrictions on wetlands use. Environmentalists term the measures a tepid series of steps that will just open up opportunities for the abuse of a fragile ecosystem. But officials say loopholes allowing construction of shopping malls and buildings in some wetland areas would be closed.

A coalition of builders, miners and developers called the proposal too restrictive, though it provides avenues for developers to appeal decisions denying construction permits.