USFS to 9th circuit: Tahoe logging won't hurt bird

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RENO, Nev. (AP) -- The U.S. Forest Service says it is not required to make sure there's enough black-backed woodpeckers to keep the rare bird from going locally extinct at Lake Tahoe as a result of a logging operation conservationists are trying to stop.

Lawyers for the agency told the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in a new filing late Friday they don't believe the woodpecker will be harmed by the logging set to begin this week at the Angora fire site where 3,000 acres of national forest and 250 homes burned in 2007.

But they said that contrary to claims by environmentalists' seeking an emergency injunction, the Forest Service has no legal mandate to insure the viability of the bird's population within the 147,000-acre forest it manages around Lake Tahoe.