A federal judge has cleared the way for possible timber cutting and natural resources exploration in a southern Illinois national forest. U.S. District Judge J. Phil Gilbert lifted his 1996 injunction barring such activity in the Shawnee National Forest. Gilbert says circumstances have changed "significantly" since he first blocked timbering and drilling in the forest. He says the U.S. Forest Service "has embarked on an entirely new forest-planning process that was based on entirely new environmental analysis." Environmentalist Sam Stearns calls the ruling "a setback for people who want to protect the Shawnee and a victory for people who are willing to sacrifice our natural heritage for a quick, short-term profit." A Forest Service spokeswoman says Gilbert's earlier concerns were addressed.
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