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Court's forest ruling appealed

By Jeff Barnard

The Associated Press

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — The Bush administration and the timber industry are appealing a federal court ruling that struck down a policy to allow logging and oil and gas drilling in large undeveloped sections of national forests.

Last September, U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Laporte reinstated a 2001 rule created by the Clinton administration, which prohibited most logging and oil and gas drilling in 50 million acres of national forests known as roadless areas in order to protect clean water and fish and wildlife habitat.

The judge found that the Bush administration had failed to conduct necessary environmental studies before it instituted a process in May 2005 that required governors to petition the federal government to protect roadless areas in their states.

Conservation groups and attorneys general from Oregon, Washington, California and New Mexico challenged the Bush policy.

"Time and time again Americans have spoken up to oppose logging and development of our last unspoiled roadless wildlands, but the Bush administration refuses to listen." said Steve Pedery, conservation director of a Portland conservation group.

The three-page notice of appeal signed by U.S. Justice Department attorney Barclay T. Samford was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. It gave no grounds or reasoning behind the appeal. Samford did not immediately return a late call to his office for comment.

The timber industry group American Forest Resource Council filed a similar notice that it would appeal as an intervener. Council Vice President Chris West said the group felt the judge had required a higher level of environmental analysis in establishing the 2005 roadless rule than the National Environmental Policy Act requires.

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