Appeals panel sides with agency on Alaska timber project

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A divided federal appeals court panel has ruled that the U.S. Forest Service "chose jobs over wolves" in approving a logging project in southeast Alaska but was within its authority to do so.

The decision is in response to lawsuits by conservation groups that challenged the Big Thorne project on Prince of Wales Island and cited concerns about the impact on the Alexander Archipelago wolf. It upholds a lower court ruling.

The majority opinion from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel states that the Forest Service met its legal obligations.

It says the panel is unaware of any authority compelling the agency to set specific benchmarks for protecting the viability of a species that is not classified as endangered or threatened.

The conservation groups are reviewing the decision.

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