Feds off the hook for scorched UP timber

MARQUETTE, Mich. (AP) -- The state of Michigan has failed to persuade a judge to order the federal government to pay for trees damaged in an Upper Peninsula wildfire in 2007.

Michigan officials were seeking $85,000, the value of trees that could have gone to market. But Judge R. Allan Edgar said in a decision Tuesday that the government has immunity under law.

Five years ago, a prescribed burn in a national forest in Baraga County got out of control and damaged 420 acres of state-owned timber. The judge says Forest Service crews must have the flexibility to make decisions in the field without having to worry about second-guessing and lawsuits.

The Forest Service reimbursed the state for costs associated with fighting the fire.

Published: Thu, May 31, 2012