Court Approves Stipulation to Modify Injunction for Certain Activities

Updated: 12/04/2019 1:54 MT

Press Release - Resumption of Select Timber Management Activities
Court Documents
Forest Service Action on Monitoring the Mexican Spotted Owl
Additional Press Releases and Media Statement on Initial Court Order

Several aspects of Timber Management

Press Release - USDA Forest Service Resumes Select Timber Management Activities 

Court approves stipulation modifying the injunction for certain activities in New Mexico and Arizona

ALBUQUERQUE, October 23, 2019 - Today, the court issued an order approving the recently filed stipulation to modify the ongoing court-ordered injunction, allowing select timber management activities to resume. In September, USDA Forest Service received an order from the United States District Court for the District of Arizona stating that the agency’s “timber management” actions must cease on five national forests in New Mexico and on the Tonto National Forest in Arizona pending formal consultation regarding potential effects to the Mexican spotted owl.  On October 21, 2019, the plaintiff and the Forest Service submitted a stipulation to modify the injunction for certain activities.

Activities to resume include the cutting of the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree, personal Christmas tree cutting, the cutting of personal use forest products such as vigas and latillas, special product collection by tribes for ceremonial purposes, and the cutting of certain hazard trees. Certain projects entirely outside of Mexican spotted owl Protected Activity Centers, critical and recovery habitat will resume, along with prescribed burning projects within certain limitations listed in the order. Certain commercial firewood gathering projects are also allowed to resume with restrictions, as specified in the court's order. Personal use firewood cutting will continue to be allowed. Other timber management activities not listed in the court's orders are still restricted.

“We continue to extend our gratitude to our state and federal partners and countless community leaders for their continued support. We are committed to being as open and transparent as possible in notifying interested groups and individuals when we take steps aimed at alleviating the stressors

of the recent court-ordered injunction,” stated Regional Forester Cal Joyner. The national forests affected by the court's order remain open to the public for recreation and other activities. 

Court Documents

Monitoring for the Mexican Spotted Owl

More information on our actions from 2013 – 2018 on Site Occupancy Monitoring for Mexican spotted owl can be found on our partner's, The Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, website:

Press Release - USDA Forest Service Requests Additional Relief for Communities

ALBUQUERQUE, October 10, 2019 – Last month USDA Forest Service received an order from the United States District Court for the District of Arizona stating that the agency’s “timber management” actions must cease on six national forests in Arizona and New Mexico pending formal consultation regarding potential effects to the Mexican spotted owl.  The Court quickly responded to the request to modify the order and allowed the cutting and collection of fuelwood, which both the plaintiff and the Forest Service supported.

Forest Service has requested the U.S. Court for the District of Arizona either modify or further clarify its September order.  Among other things, today’s request provides extensive information about the minimal potential impact on Mexican spotted owl of many activities that are designed to improve forest health, including stewardship contracts, timber sales, thinning and prescribed burns in specific areas, and that provide forest products such as firewood and Christmas trees to local communities.

“We are extremely grateful to our state and federal partners and countless community leaders for helping find interim solutions,” said Regional Forester Cal Joyner. The national forests affected by the court's order remain open to the public for recreation and other activities. 

Press Release - Forest Service Resumes Fuelwood Permit Sales on Carson, Cibola, Gila, Lincoln, Santa Fe and Tonto National Forests

ALBUQUERQUE NM, October 1, 2019 – The Court-ordered injunction suspending all timber management activities on the five national forests in New Mexico and the Tonto National Forest in Arizona has been modified to allow the personal cutting and collection of fuelwood.  The Forest Service will resume permit sales immediately.

Southwestern Regional Forester Cal Joyner noted "We are pleased with this modification, which highlights the fact that we all want to do right by the communities we serve and reduce unnecessary burdens on communities that depend on the national forests for their sustenance. I want to assure you that we are committed to continuing our work to protect wildlife and wildlife habitat from catastrophic wildfire, and we thank you for your ongoing support, understanding and patience."

The federal court's ruling is related to the recent court-ordered injunction in the case WildEarth Guardians vs. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, et al concerning the Mexican spotted owl. 
Other activities, including stewardship contracts, timber sales, thinning and prescribed burns, remain suspended in order to ensure compliance with the ruling, pending clarification or modification of the injunction.

The national forests impacted by the court's order remain open to the public for recreation and other activities. We are extremely grateful to our state and federal partners including the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, the New Mexico State Forestry Division, the New Mexico Governor’s Office and countless community leaders for helping find interim solutions. 

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Media Statement on Initial Court Order

Media statement in relation to the recent court-ordered injunction in the case WildEarth Guardians vs. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, et al. CV-13-00151-TUC-RCC in U.S. District Court in Arizona concerning the Mexican Spotted Owl.

The Forest Service received an Order from the United States District Court for the District of Arizona stating that the agency’s “timber management actions in Region 3 national forests must cease,” pending formal consultation regarding the Mexican Spotted Owl. 

Five National Forests in Arizona are not within the scope of the Order. To comply with the Court’s Order, we are ceasing timber management actions on all National Forests in New Mexico and on the Tonto National Forest in Arizona.

Such actions may include timber sales, stewardship contracts, planned prescribed fire activities, and the issuance and implementation of active and new commercial and personal-use forest product permits. Personal-use permits include firewood permitting and cutting. Timber management activities include many restoration-focused activities, thinning operations and hazardous fuels reduction projects designed to protect wildlife and communities from fire danger.

We will continue to work to meet our consultation responsibilities under the Court’s Order as quickly as possible, as we are fully committed to continuing efforts for the recovery of the Mexican Spotted owl.  However, we also understand the hardship that the cessation of timber management actions may impose on local communities that rely on National Forest products for livelihood. Our thanks to the public and our partners for your understanding and patience. We will readily communicate any new developments as they occur.
 





https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/gila/home/?cid=FSEPRD666433