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Olympic National Forest unaffected by judge's old-growth ruling


Peninsula Daily News

OLYMPIA, WA-- Loggers in Olympic National Forest needn't worry about a federal judge's reinstating rare-species regulations in stands of old-growth timber.

U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman in August rejected the Bush administration's 2004 suspension of a ``look before you log'' rule.

The Clinton administration had added the restriction to the Northwest Forest Plan.

On Monday, Pechman reinstated the rule and issued an injunction blocking 144 timber sales of up to 289 million board feet on 5.5 million acres in Washington, Oregon and California.

But all current or planned logging in Olympic National Forest is excused because the Forest Service continued to follow the 2001 regulation here, agency spokesman Carl Dennison said Wednesday.

That means loggers performed a ``sensitive species assessment'' in old-growth logging units before they began felling trees.

Also called the ``survey and manage rule,'' it required the agency to search for and protect about 300 rare species of plants and animals in old-growth forests.

Pechman's ruling ``will have no impact on any timber sales that are under contract or that we plan to sell this fiscal year,'' Dennison said from Olympic National Forest headquarters in Olympia.

The Olympic National Forest consists of 632,000 acres, almost half of it in what Dennison called ``old-growth reserves.''


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