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Judge rejects U.S. plan for road building in 4 forests

September 30, 2009 |  4:23 pm

A federal judge today tossed out the federal government’s plans to open vast tracts of forests in Southern California to new road building.

U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel in San Francisco ruled that the U.S. Forest Service failed to adequately consider the effects the new plan would have on the landscape and wildlife in the Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres and San Bernardino national forests.

The forests are home to several endangered and threatened species. Los Padres, for instance, is the principal home of the endangered California condor. The species’ population has grown to more than 300 since 1982, when all 22 California condors left were rounded up for a captive breeding program.

The Forest Service in 2005 proposed opening about 1 million acres in the four forests to road development and the state of California and environmental groups sued three years later.

The judge said high-ranking Forest Service officials failed to adequately address the effects such road development policies had on national forests.

She also noted that the federal government recommended very little of the land at issue be designated for permanent wilderness designation, which would prohibit any future development.

The judge ordered both sides to submit proposed resolutions over the next 49 days.

—Associated Press