New Mexico Republican lawmakers say a federal court decision that halts firewood gathering and other forest projects will have devastating consequences. The firewood ban was ordered by a judge who made the ruling to protect a threatened owl species in Arizona and New Mexico.
The 21 legislators sent a letter Monday to the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, saying the ruling will affect thousands of New Mexicans and jeopardize fire management programs. They called the order 'indiscriminate.'
The Forest Service has suspended timber sales, thinning projects, prescribed burns and the sale of firewood permits on five New Mexico forests and one in Arizona.
The decision involves a case in which environmentalists accused the federal government of failing to track Mexican spotted owls. A pending motion would modify the court order to exclude firewood cutting and gathering for personal use. It's unclear when the judge will rule.