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Environmentalists Sue to Protect Calif. Forests

Seven environmental groups filed a lawsuit today over U.S. Forest Service efforts to protect wildlife and roadless areas on four Southern California national forests - including the Cleveland National

Southern California environmental groups are suing the U.S. Forest Service. The groups say the service isn't doing enough to protect wildlife and roadless areas in the Cleveland and three other Southern California national forests. KPBS Reporter Ed Joyce has details.

Seven environmental groups sued the forest service over what they say is a lack of protection for pristine areas in the Cleveland, Angeles, Los Padres, and San Bernardino National Forests.

The agency's land-management plan outlines management goals and strategies in those forests for the next 10 to 15 years.

The plans guide decisions on protecting plants and wildlife to deciding where development and off-road vehicle trails are placed.

David Hogan with the Center for Biological Diversity says the plan is flawed.

He says energy development, off-road vehicles and road construction are harming the forest's ecological health, water quality and nature-based recreation.

Hogan: Despite years of attempted compromise the forest service still insists on treating these areas for maximum exploitation for corporate profit - as in the case of the Sunrise Powerlink - to many other projects which are harmful for the natural environment.

Attorney Erin Tobin of Earthjustice says the plan threatens endangered plants and animals.

Tobin: And unfortunately the forest service has slashed protection for many of the most pristine roadless areas and basically refused to even consider better protections for sensitive species and vegetation.

She says some of the wildlife potentially impacted include endangered and threatened species such as the California condor and the southern California steelhead trout.

Forest service officials did not return calls seeking comment.

 Ed Joyce, KPBS News.

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