Forest Service Tramples Law|In National Forests, Groups Say

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The U.S. Forest Service ignored potentially serious environmental consequences when it rezoned Southern California’s four national forests to allow more road-building and motorized off-road vehicle recreation, the Center for Biological Diversity and five other groups claim in Federal Court.

     At state are Los Padres, Angeles, San Bernardino and Cleveland National Forests – more than 3.5 million acres of public land in Southern California that includes the Big Sur coast south of Monterey Bay, snow-covered mountain peaks in the San Gabriel, San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountains and the Mojave and Colorado Deserts. The hardwood and conifer forests, not suitable for timber production, are home to a wealth of sensitive, rare and unique vegetation, all of which allegedly are threatened by the impending construction of miles of roads and dangerous outdoor recreation activities.
     Plaintiffs say the Forest Service and the Department of Agriculture violated the National Environmental Protection Act, by not preparing an adequate environmental impact statement on the effects of the rezoning plan on sensitive species and wildlife, and did not consider alternative management approaches.
     The plaintiffs demand an injunction stopping the Forest Service from going ahead with the plans, and ordering the Forest Service to prepare a legal and adequate environmental impact statement and revised plans for the forests. Plaintiffs are represented by Erin Tobin with Earthjustice.

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