Judge Recuses from Lawsuit Seeking to Block Irrigation Project

JANUARY 23, 2006 - Posted at 3:20 p.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - A federal judge has recused from hearing a lawsuit that seeks to block construction of a $320 million irrigation project that environmentalists say threatens the habitat of the rare ivory-billed woodpecker.

U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Eisele withdrew from the case today, saying he has a vague tie to one of the groups seeking to block the project.  Eisele gave money to the Audobon Society, which is not part of the suit.

It is not clear which judge will now get the case.

The National Wildlife Federation and the Arkansas Wildlife Federation are seeking a preliminary injunction to halt work by the Army Corps of Engineers on the Grand Prarie Irrigation Project in eastern Arkansas.  The groups say the project would harm the habitat for the rare ivory-billed woodpecker.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)