U.S. Forest Service backing off Wisconsin logging project

Hayward, Wis. (AP) — The U.S. Forest Service has halted plans
for a large logging project in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National
Forest to allow for more study and review, supervisor Jeanne
Higgins said Friday.

The agency announced last November that it would permit
harvesting of 5,242 acres of timber in the so-called Cayuga Project
northeast of Clam Lake in northern Wisconsin.

That decision has been withdrawn and is now being reviewed to
take into account new proposed timber sales in the area, Higgins
said.

She expects a new decision on the logging, which was first
proposed in 2003, by late February.

The Environmental Law and Policy Center welcomed the
development. The Cayuga Project involves too much logging in too
many of the wrong places and could harm natural resources,
executive director Howard Learner said.

Environmentalists and the Forest Service have clashed since 2005
over thousands of acres of proposed timber sales in the
Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. The Cayuga Project and other
timber sales have been on hold for years because of lawsuits that
called for more detailed environmental studies examining the
cumulative effect of logging on wildlife habitat.

Connie Chaney, district ranger for the Cayuga Project, said
Friday that no reason has come up so far to stop the logging “but
just to make sure, we are going to take another look.”

The February decision could very well end up before a federal
judge, she said.

Logging is designed to restore wildlife habit and improve the
health of the forest by staggering the trees’ age and allowing for
new growth, the forest service said. The work also provides money
for local economies.

The Environmental Law and Policy Center considers the
Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest one of the 10 most endangered
national forests in the country.

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