updated 11/15/2005 12:22:56 PM ET 2005-11-15T17:22:56

A federal judge stopped a logging project in Giant Sequoia National Monument on Monday, keeping intact more than 1,000 acres in a preserve that houses two-thirds of the world’s largest trees.

Judge Charles Breyer issued a preliminary injunction blocking a timber sale, saying the U.S. Forest Service had ignored extensive research on how commercial logging would affect wildlife in the region.

“We hope they’re finally getting the message,” said Deborah Reames, an attorney with Earthjustice, one of several environmental groups that brought the lawsuit.

Reames said the project would have hurt wildlife, some of which is at the point of extinction.

The Forest Service said timber sales help preserve logging jobs and the natural ecosystem. The project would thin out smaller trees that are fire hazards, not completely clear out the area, spokesman Matt Mathes said.

“We desperately need to bring the ecosystem back into balance. The smaller trees in that area act as ladders to take fires into the taller Sequoias,” Mathes said.

Congress declared parts of the Sequoia National Forest a national monument in 2000. That designation generally would prevent further logging. But, because the sale was approved before the declaration, Mathes said, the project was exempt from monument rules.

Mathes said he did not know if the Forest Service would challenge the injunction.

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