DISASTERS

Wildlife advocates sue feds over allowing logging on Sierra Nevada land burned in wildfire

FILE - In this Sept. 25, 2013, file photo an excavator removes trees that were bulldozed for a firebreak in the battle against Rim Fire along Dodge Ridge in the Stanislaus National Forest, near Tuolumne City, Calif. Wildlife advocates on Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014, plan to sue the U.S. Forest Service, attempting to block part of a recently unveiled plan for logging trees burned last year in the massive Sierra Nevada wildfire. The Center for Biological Diversity argues that federal forestry officials have ignored science showing that the California spotted owl population has soared since the Rim Fire scorched 400 square miles.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

FILE - In this Sept. 25, 2013, file photo an excavator removes trees that were bulldozed for a firebreak in the battle against Rim Fire along Dodge Ridge in the Stanislaus National Forest, near Tuolumne City, Calif. Wildlife advocates on Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014, plan to sue the U.S. Forest Service, attempting to block part of a recently unveiled plan for logging trees burned last year in the massive Sierra Nevada wildfire. The Center for Biological Diversity argues that federal forestry officials have ignored science showing that the California spotted owl population has soared since the Rim Fire scorched 400 square miles. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)  (The Associated Press)

Wildlife advocates are suing a federal agency over its plan to allow loggers to remove trees killed last year in the third-largest wildfire in California's history.

A coalition of environmental groups filed the lawsuit in Fresno on Thursday, saying the U.S. Forest Service ignored science showing California spotted owls are thriving in the forests burned by the massive blaze. The Rim Fire scorched 400 square miles in the Sierra Nevada and destroyed 11 homes.

Last week, federal officials unveiled plans to open 52 square miles to logging.

Chad Hanson of the John Muir Project, one of the plaintiffs, says the suit seeks to stop logging on 40 percent of the designated area, leaving plenty for the timber industry.

Forest Service officials have defended their plan, saying it strikes a balance between loggers and wildlife.