From: Don Thompson, Associated Press
Published February 2, 2005 12:00 AM

California, Environmental Groups Sue to Block Sierra National Forest Plan

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California's attorney general joined environmental groups Tuesday in suing the federal government to block its plan to manage 11.5 million acres of Sierra National Forest, which calls for increased logging.


The lawsuits argue there is no scientific justification for the Forest Service to change a plan for managing the forest that was approved in the final days of the Clinton administration.


"Their plan will increase harvesting between 470 percent (in the first decade of the plan) and 640 percent (in the second decade). I think that's their goal," Attorney General Bill Lockyer alleged.


In a teleconference with reporters, Lockyer and several environmentalists took particular exception to a provision that would allow the federal government to cut trees up to 30 inches in diameter.


Jim Lyons, a professor at Yale University and former agriculture undersecretary under President Clinton, said larger trees are more fire-resistant and provide key wildlife habitat.


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However, Forest Service spokesman Matt Mathes said harvesting larger trees would help pay to clear out smaller brush and trees that are fire hazards.


"There's not enough money in the federal treasury to thin hundreds of thousands, millions of acres," he said.


Both suits were filed in federal court in Sacramento. Neither asks a judge to immediately prevent the Forest Service from acting under the revised Sierra plan.


Source: Associated Press


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