Environmentalists file suit over Northwest Forest Plan changes
WASHINGTON -- Environmentalists are suing the Bush administration, objecting to recent changes in the Northwest Forest Plan that they say endanger salmon and clean water.
The suit, filed in federal court in Seattle last week, follows a suit filed last month objecting to a change in the forest plan that eased curbs on logging of old-growth forests.
The administration announced the new rules in March. One change relaxes a rule requiring that forest managers look for rare plants and animals before logging; the other allows agencies to meet clean-water goals on a broad basis rather than on individual projects.
Administration officials say most old-growth forest in the region remains protected. The new rules also preserve clean water and allow sufficient habitat for old-growth species, said Rex Holloway, a spokesman for the Forest Service.
Environmentalists have decried the changes, saying they would double logging on federal land in Washington, Oregon and Northern California, and have disastrous consequences for rare species.
Last month, the Western Environmental Law Center challenged so-called survey-and-manage rules that govern old-growth forests.
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