A federal judge has upheld a requirement that Northwest national forest employees look for hundreds of rare species like snails, mushrooms and mosses before cutting down big trees.

The ruling Thursday from U.S. District Court in Seattle effectively strikes down the last surviving piece of the Bush administration’s strategy to boost logging in spotted owl territory.

Judge John C. Coughenour did not immediately reinstate the so-called survey and manage rule. He wants to hear more from the government and conservation groups before issuing an order.

But he said in his ruling that the U.S. Forest Service failed to show that the rule was doing anything but what it was intended to do — protect the small but essential pieces that make an ecosystem work.

— The Associated Press