Groups to work to protect 900,000 acres of forest
By Stephanie Hoops
California conservationists and federal forest agencies agreed Wednesday to work together to improve and protect more than 900,000 roadless acres once scheduled for development.
Los Padres is one of four national forests that would benefit from the deal, which is awaiting approval by federal district court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel.
Conservation groups were challenging Forest Service management plans for four Southern California national forests, claiming they failed to assess forest damage that could be caused by road, trail and unauthorized route construction in roadless areas.
“Today’s agreement brings us one step closer toward securing the permanent protection of our region’s wild places,” said Jeff Kuyper, executive director of Los Padres ForestWatch, a nonprofit organization that works to protect the Los Padres National Forest. “It promotes healthy wildlife populations, pristine open spaces, clean water, and outdoor recreation opportunities for our local communities, all of which are facing increasing pressures from urbanization and development.”
Kuyper said the agreement applies to 600,000 acres of the Los Padres National Forest, primarily in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.
Environmental groups involved in the action were the Center for Biological Diversity, Los Padres ForestWatch, Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, California Native Plant Society, California Wilderness Coalition and The Wilderness Society. They were represented by Earthjustice attorney Erin Tobin, who said in a statement: “Southern Californians need and want wild areas, wildlife, healthy forests and clean drinking water. That’s what these national forests have to offer and they will be better protected going forward because of the agreement we’ve reached.”
© 2010 Ventura County Star.
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