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Rules give agencies shortcuts on forests

by Jon Robinson (webmaster) |

Federal officials on Friday loosened environmental rules to permit faster and cheaper cutting of fire-prone timber, advancing a forest-thinning initiative launched by President Bush in Medford during last year's wildfires.

They also proposed to let land managers such as the U.S. Forest Service decide the impact of logging and other projects on endangered species without consulting the federal wildlife agency overseeing those species.

The changes will limit the procedural footholds forest activists have used to block what they contend are ill-advised logging projects billed as reducing fire danger.