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House Votes to Allow Increased Logging

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The House has voted to speed up logging in forests to reduce the threat of wildfires. The vote gives the Forest Service the go-ahead to begin cutting excess trees from 20 million acres of overgrown woodlands. The areas involved would be exempt from some of the normal environmental studies, and appeals would be limited.

The House bill was sponsored by Republican Represenatives Scott McInnis of Colorado and Greg Walden of Oregon.

Supporters of the measure say it is needed to reduce trees and brush that fuel fires. Seven million acres of forest land burned last year. It was the second worst fire season in 50 years.

Democrats and environmental groups say it will allow logging companies to cut old-growth trees in large areas of forestland.

The vote came after President Bush urged the Senate to quickly approve it.