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KTVL.com, July 7, 2011

Judge OKs forest protections
By The Associated Press

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — A federal judge has signed off on an agreement between conservation groups and the U.S. Forest Service to update protections for rare and obscure species that depend on old growth forests to live.

U.S. District Court Judge John Coughenour in Seattle signed the agreement late Wednesday.

The protections, known as the survey and manage rule, require the Forest Service to look for rare species ranging from lichens to great grey owls before planning timber sales in old growth forests.

The Bush administration had dismantled the protections to increase timber production on federal forests in the Northwest.

A judge restored them, and this update allows exemptions for forest restoration projects. It also puts the red tree vole, a key food of the northern spotted owl, back on the species list.

Copyright © 2011 Freedom Communications

This article originally appeared here.

Photo © Paul S. Hamilton