From: Beth DeFalco, Associated Press
Published February 15, 2006 12:00 AM

Forest Service Cancels Plan to Log Near Grand Canyon

PHOENIX — The federal government has canceled plans to set controlled fires and conduct forest thinning on more than 17,000 acres of old-growth timber near the north rim of the Grand Canyon.

The U.S. Forest Service called off the project because so much time had elapsed since it was first proposed that new studies of the area's bird populations would be required, said Cathie Schmidlin, a spokeswoman for the Kaibab National Forest.

The project drew criticism from environmentalists who sued in federal court to stop it, alleging the plan would not restore the health of the forest and that wildlife would not be protected.

A federal judge ruled in the government's favor last year, but environmental groups filed an appeal.

Schmidlin said the lawsuit was not a factor in the government's decision to cancel the project. The agency has not decided what to do next, she added.

The Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity contended the plan would have permitted commercial logging of tens of thousands of large, fire-resistant trees and done little to reduce fires.

"The decision to abandon this controversial timber sale is a wake-up call that the Forest Service must fund projects that actually protect communities from wildfire, instead of logging in remote areas," the Sierra Club said in a statement.

Source: Associated Press

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