SANTA FE – Federal agencies have filed “biological opinions” for national forests in New Mexico and one in Arizona, and have asked a U.S. district judge to dissolve the court’s previous injunction on timber management activities on habitat of the Mexican spotted owl.
But an environmental group that sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failure to monitor owl populations is opposed to the motion, saying federal agencies need to start all over again.
A U.S. district court in Arizona in September issued an order requiring the U.S. Forest Service to suspend timber management activities – including tree-cutting, gathering fuel wood and prescribed burns – in the Carson, Cibola, Gila, Lincoln and Santa Fe national forests in New Mexico, and Arizona’s Tonto National Forest, pending formal consultation addressing potential effects on the spotted owl, a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
The court modified its order in October to allow some timber management activities, such as prescribed burns, to resume amid outcry from federal and state lawmakers, firewood vendors, forest thinning contractors and folks who rely on firewood to heat their homes in the winter.