November 14, 2005

Judge blocks California Sequoia logging project

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A federal judge temporarily
barred a logging project on Monday that would have included a
small section of California's Giant Sequoia National Monument.

The plan in question would thin trees across 1,322 acres ,
of which under a quarter are within the Giant Sequoia National
Monument, in an effort to protect a small local community
against forest fires, said Matt Mathes, a spokesman for the
U.S. Forest Service in California.

The Monument spans 328,000 acres that are home to
two-thirds of all sequoia trees in the world.

Several environmental groups sued to block the project,
known as the "Ice Timber Sale," one of 11 grandfathered into a
Clinton administration proclamation banning logging there
starting in 2000.

In his Monday decision, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer
granted the request for an injunction, saying the project's
potential effect on wildlife had not been properly considered.

"The court finds that the Forest Service has failed to show
the adequate degree of care in considering this information and
evaluating its impact," he wrote.

Monday's decision is separate from a larger legal battle in
which California and environmental groups are suing the Bush
administration over a plan to allow timber harvesting in the