Federal judge suspends forest management rules

A federal judge in San Francisco has ruled the US Forest Service failed to conduct mandatory environmental impact reviews or take public comment on plans by the administration of US President George W. Bush to change rules governing forest land management.

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Apr. 3 -- A federal judge in San Francisco has ruled the US Forest Service failed to conduct mandatory environmental impact reviews or take public comment on plans by the administration of US President George W. Bush to change rules governing forest land management.

US Northern District Judge Phyllis Hamilton ruled Mar. 30 that the forest service's new policies should be invalidated. Opponents said the rule changes would expedite oil and gas exploration on forest land while weakening wildlife protection and preventing public comment regarding forest management.

The agency must conduct environmental reviews before implementing the "clear controversial" changes, she said. No comment was immediately available from the Forest Service.

The rules were changed in 2005 in what forest officials called a move to streamline paperwork and respond faster to evolving forest conditions and scientific research. The rule changes invalidated 1982 federal forest agency rules.

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