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Federal judge rules national forest logging plan violates environmental laws

[JURIST] A plan by the US Forest Service [official website] to allow commercial logging inside Central California's Giant Sequoia National Monument [USFS materials] violates environmental laws [press release], US District Judge Charles R. Breyer held Tuesday. Breyer had previously issued an injunction [PDF text] to stop the logging in response to a lawsuit filed by environmental groups including the Sierra Club, Earthjustice, and the John Muir Project [advocacy websites], as well as a separate challenge brought by the California Attorney General [official website].

Under the plan, private companies would pay the Forest Service for the right to clear small brush and trees beneath the sequoias, as well as mid-sized trees up to 30 inches in diameter. The Forest Service maintains the clearing is necessary for fire control and prevention, but the environmental groups argued that the plans were designed to satisfy the timber industry. In his opinion [PDF text] in the Attorney General's lawsuit, Breyer held the plan lacked "coherent or clear guidance" and was "decidedly incomprehensible." In a separate opinion [PDF text] in the case brought by environmental groups, Breyer issued a permanent injunction barring the Forest Service from continuing with its plans until the Forest Service conducts an adequate and sufficient supplemental ... review" under the National Environmental Policy Act [EPA materials]. AP has more.

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