Wildlife groups sue feds over California logging

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Wildlife advocates are suing a federal agency over its plan to allow loggers to remove trees killed last year in the third-largest wildfire in California's history.

A coalition of environmental groups filed the lawsuit in Fresno on Thursday, saying the U.S. Forest Service ignored science showing California spotted owls are thriving in the forests burned by the massive blaze. The Rim Fire scorched 400 square miles in the Sierra Nevada and destroyed 11 homes.

Last week, federal officials unveiled plans to open 52 square miles to logging.

Chad Hanson of the John Muir Project, one of the plaintiffs, says the suit seeks to stop logging on 40 percent of the designated area, leaving plenty for the timber industry.

Forest Service officials have defended their plan, saying it strikes a balance between loggers and wildlife.