IMAGE: ANCIENT SEQUOIA
Kevork Djansezian  /  AP file
The Giant Sequoia National Monument includes trees like this 2,000-year-old specimen. The Bush administration wants to thin much smaller and younger trees within the monument it says are a fire hazard, but a judge has blocked the policy.
updated 8/22/2006 4:01:50 PM ET 2006-08-22T20:01:50

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that a Bush administration plan to allow commercial logging inside the Giant Sequoia National Monument violates environmental laws.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer sided with environmental groups that sued the U.S. Forest Service over its plans for managing the 328,000-acre preserve, home to two-thirds of the world’s largest trees.

Breyer had already issued a preliminary injunction, in September 2005, to halt further logging in the national monument created by President Clinton in 2000.

In the lawsuit filed last year, the Sierra Club and other conservation groups said the management plan for the reserve in the southern Sierra Nevada range was a scientifically suspect strategy that was intended to satisfy timber interests under the guise of wildfire prevention.

The Forest Service had said the plan to allow thinning of some trees was aimed at meeting fire prevention goals.

"Today's ruling only strengthens the case for transferring management of this magnificent Monument to neighboring Sequoia National Park, where it would be treated with the good stewardship it deserves," Bruce Hamilton, the Sierra Club's conservation director, said in a statement.

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