The U.S. Forest Service wants to cut 176,000 acres of trees in two northern California national forests to study the effects on the protected spotted owl and other species that depend on mature forests.
The plan outrages environmentalists. They say it endangers the owls´ habitat and violates the intent of the Sierra Nevada Framework.
The framework is supported by many environmental groups because it focuses timber cuts on smaller trees near mountain communities at risk from wildfire.
But forest service official say the framework itself calls for studying of the effects of fire-prevention efforts on threatened wildlife.
They say this is the first large-scale study over an extended period.