Wildlife Rule Change Challenged

A coalition of environmental groups yesterday challenged the Bush administration's recent decision to set aside Reagan-era rules aimed at protecting wildlife in national forests, filing suit in U.S. District Court in Northern California.

On Sept. 29, the administration issued a temporary regulation saying U.S. Forest Service managers reviewing road building, logging or other proposals are allowed to waive a 22-year-old requirement that the forests maintain "viable populations" of fish and wildlife. Instead, they can base decisions based on "best available science," which could include judging habitat conditions instead of using population counts of key indicator species.

"The Bush administration is trying to make it legal to drive wildlife species toward extinction in the national forests," said Earthjustice lawyer Tim Preso, who is representing Defenders of Wildlife, Wilderness Society, Sierra Club and Vermont National Resources Council. "We don't think that is right, and we intend to stop them."

A Forest Service spokeswoman declined to comment.

Duke Researcher to Head NIEHS

David A. Schwartz, director of the pulmonary, allergy and critical care division and vice chairman of research in the department of medicine at Duke University, has been appointed the new director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Schwartz, who will join NIEHS next April, succeeds Kenneth Olden, who stepped down last year.

NIEHS, a part of the National Institutes of Health, is based in the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina.

Do More in Darfur, Bush Is Told

President Bush should do more to ease the humanitarian crisis in Sudan's Darfur region, an alliance of U.S.-based international aid groups said yesterday.

InterAction, which represents more than 160 U.S. nongovernmental organizations, said it was imperative the U.S. government do even more to support an African Union peacekeeping effort in Darfur in western Sudan.

"Steps beyond those presently contemplated will have to be undertaken to relieve the dying and suffering," InterAction president Mary E. McClymont wrote Bush. "Without adequate security and funding, a viable relief effort cannot be sustained," she added.

-- Compiled from reports by staff writer Juliet Eilperin and news services