Judge rejects suit challenging establishment of sequoia monument in California | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Judge rejects suit challenging establishment of sequoia monument in California


WASHINGTON (AP) – A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a suit by timber interests and backcountry vehicle users challenging former President Clinton’s order creating Giant Sequoia National Monument in California.

U.S. District Judge Richard M. Urbina said ”there is no set of facts” showing that the establishment of the 327,769-acre monument in south central California violates the 1906 Antiquities Act.

”President Clinton’s proclamation has meaningful limitations and follows the standards delineated by Congress in the Antiquities Act,” the judge wrote.

Clinton established the monument in June 2000, effectively making the acreage off limits to mining, logging and off-road vehicles.

In October 2000, Tulare County, Calif., joined timber interests and recreation groups in filing suit to reverse the proclamation or at least reduce the size of the monument to the 20,000 acres that actually include sequoias and were already protected under law. The county and its school districts get a portion of the fees the U.S. Forest Service collects from logging operations.

Michael Sherwood, an attorney for Earthjustice, a San Francisco-based environmental law firm, said Thursday, ”The ruling is a clear victory for the environment and sends a strong message to those lodging such spurious challenges to well-established law.”

The U.S. government, environmentalists and the state of California all filed papers with the court saying the trees’ health depends on the broader ecosystem and watershed. The monument contains about half the 70 remaining groves of giant sequoias.

On the Net:

Giant Sequoia National Monument: http://www.r5.fs.fed.us/giant-sequoia

Earthjustice: http://www.earthjustice.org

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