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Once again, the Golden State finds itself in a face-off with the federal government, this time over a U.S. Forest Service management plan that would open four southern California national forests up to road construction and oil drilling. The state filed suit Thursday to protect the Los Padres, Cleveland, Angeles, and San Bernardino national forests—public lands stretching from Big Sur to the Mexican border and providing habitat for at least 60 threatened or endangered animal and plant species—alleging the Forest Service is violating several federal management laws by not coordinating with state and local officials.
“California wants to keep these forests without roads, and the Bush administration is just operating with reckless disregard for the public trust,” State Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown told the Los Angeles Times. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger added (in a statement reported in the San Jose Mercury News), “Today in the face of threats, we are forced to once again stand up for California’s forests.” A Forest Service spokeswoman told the paper that roads were needed to help fight fires. —Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan