cuttings logs with chainsaw

DURANGO -- The U.S. Forest Service has canceled a decision to use chain saws to clear trees killed by bark beetles in two wilderness areas in southwestern Colorado.

The Durango Herald reports Rocky Mountain Regional Forester Brian Ferebee announced the decision in a letter to forest supervisors Monday, citing reports of avalanches blocking trails in the Weminuche and South San Juan wilderness areas.

The agency in May authorized the motorized equipment, prompting a lawsuit by conservation groups that claimed chain saws in wilderness areas would violate law.

San Juan Citizens Alliance Executive Director Mark Pearson says they will dismiss the lawsuit following the announcement.

Ferebee says the decision has been rescinded until the agency's "assessed needs are completed."

Officials did not respond to the newspaper's questions seeking clarification for that statement.

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