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Guardians and Forest Service request modification of Court order

Date
October 22, 2019
Contact
John Horning, (505) 795-5083, jhorning@wildearthguardians.org
In This Release
Public Lands  
#GreaterGila, #Rewilding, #WildlandsForWildlife
Santa Fe, NM –WildEarth Guardians and federal land, fish and wildlife agencies reached an agreement earlier this week that would lift a court-ordered injunction for a suite of activities on national forests. The three entities filed a joint request with the Court to modify the Court’s order that has halted all timber management activities on all national forests in New Mexico and one in Arizona to protect Mexican spotted owl. The parties are requesting that the Court clarify or modify its order, in place since September 11, to except certain activities that both parties believe will not harm the owl and are necessary for the protection of life and property.

The request identifies a variety of projects and activities that “should be permanently excepted from the Court’s injunction,” with a primary focus on projects entirely outside of Mexican spotted owl habitat, including commercial firewood gathering, personal and ceremonial forest product collection, cutting hazard trees, and prescribed burning. If approved by the judge the stipulation would also allow Christmas tree cutting, including the U.S. Capital Christmas tree.

“We are relieved that the agencies finally agreed to engage in negotiations and come to an agreement about activities that we believe will not harm the Mexican spotted owl,” stated John Horning, executive director of WildEarth Guardians. “This agreement will allow trail maintenance, Christmas tree cutting and thinning activities outside of spotted owl habitat and I’m happy that people can get back to those activities on our national forests.”

This stipulation follows WildEarth Guardian’s September 26 motion to allow personal firewood cutting and gathering. The Court granted that motion on October 1. WildEarth Guardians had been urging the Forest Service to come to the negotiation table ever since the injunction was issued, sending a letter to the Department of Justice attorney, and one to New Mexico’s congressional delegation asking them to “urge the Forest Service to sit down with us to start resolving the appropriate scope of the injunction” and provide the necessary federal funding for the Forest Service to conduct the required monitoring of Mexican spotted owl at issue in the case.

Steve Sugarman, attorney for WildEarth Guardians, stated that he is relieved that the parties have finally engaged in an effort to resolve their dispute.  He said that “the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has mapped a clear path forward of the steps necessary to conserve the Mexican spotted owl and save it from extinction, and we hope that our engagement with the Forest Service will lead to the agency’s decision to adopt and implement those steps.”

Other Contact
Steve Sugarman, 505-672-5082, StevenSugarman@hotmail.com