- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

WHITE PINE, Mich. (AP) - A judge won’t stop an Upper Peninsula land swap between the U.S. Forest Service and a private landowner that involves old-growth forests and a popular waterfall.

Critics say the government failed to consider unique characteristics, including proximity to wetlands, scenic rivers and sensitive areas. But federal Judge Robert Holmes Bell says he’s satisfied the Forest Service followed the law. He says his power to review the record is narrow.

The government is getting 421 acres at the southern boundary of Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in exchange for five scattered parcels in Ontonagon County.

The Forest Service acknowledges it’s giving up Wildcat Falls, a popular spot for hikers. But the agency says there are similar sites in the Upper Peninsula.

The judge’s decision was released Sept. 9.

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