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|The new rules give economic activity equal priority with preserving the ecological health of the forests in making management decisions and in potentially liberalizing caps on how much timber can be taken from a forest.
One-quarter of U.S. species at risk of extinction -- including more than 25 species of trout and salmon -- live in national forests, according to the conservation group NatureServe. Large animals such as grizzly bears, wolves and elk depend on the forests' large, undisturbed swaths of land for habitat.
"The end result of all this is there will be more logging and less conservation of wildlife," said Mike Leahy, natural resources counsel for Defenders of Wildlife. "They're not going to provide enough land for these species to hang on."