USDA Forest Service Requests Additional Relief for Communities

Updated: 10/21/2019 13:00 MT

Press Release - Request for Additional Relief for Communitites
Press Release - Resuming of Fuelwood Permit Sales
Media Statement on Initial Court Order
Court Documents
Forest Service Action on Monitoring the Mexican Spotted Owl
Fuelwood Alternatives
What is Timber Management?

Several aspects of Timber Management

Press Release - USDA Forest Service Requests Additional Relief for Communities

Released 10/10/2019

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. For the most up to date information from the Forest Service please go to https://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/r3/mso.

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

Released: 10/01/2019

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. For the most up to date information from the Forest Service please go to https://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/r3/mso
 

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Fuelwood Permits

Sample Fuelwood Permit with Dates Circled

On 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 was modified to allow the personal cutting and collection of fuelwood.

Those individuals who were issued a personal use fuelwood permit in any of the six affected forests (Carson, Cibola, Gila, Lincoln, Santa Fe, and Tonto National Forests) prior to the injunction with a termination date falling between September 11, 2019, and October 7, 2019, and who still have unused load tags may continue to cut and collect fuelwood, in accordance with the terms of the permit, through October 21, 2019.

Please be sure to have your permit with you when cutting and collecting fuelwood.   

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.
 

Fuelwood Alternatives

BLM Firewood Information

Locations for purchase include:

  • Albuquerque
  • Socorro
  • Farmington
  • Taos
  • Cuba

Carson National Forest

Cibola National Forest

Gila National Forest

  • Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests
    • Alpine Ranger District issues permits for Oak and Juniper - (928) 339-5000
    • Springerville Ranger District issues permits for Oak and Juniper – (928) 333-6200
    • Clifton Ranger District issues permits for Oak and Juniper - (928) 687-8600

Lincoln National Forest

Santa Fe National Forest

Tonto National Forest

  • Coconino National Forest
    • Mogollon Rim Ranger District issues permits for Juniper and Oak – (928) 477-2255
  • Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests
    • Springerville Ranger District issues permits for Oak and Juniper – (928) 333-6200
    • Alpine Ranger District issues permits for Oak and Juniper - (928) 339-5000
    • Clifton Ranger District issues permits for Oak and Juniper - (928) 687-8600
    • Black Mesa Ranger District issues permits for Pine – (928) 535-7300

Timber Management Activities

USDA Forest Service has noticed that there is confusion and misinformation being shared about what defines Timber Management Activities. We want to make it clear that we are fully complying with the court-ordered injunction, requiring Region 3 - the Southwestern Region - to cease all “timber management activities”. The Southwestern Region is required to include fuelwood as a part of our timber management targets. Roughly 25% of the region’s timber target is made up of fuelwood, both personal and commercial. In New Mexico, the percentage is closer to 50% of target timber management activities that we are required to report. Forest Service Manual 2400, Timber Management, also includes the guidelines for forest products, which includes fuelwood.

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:

Court Documents

 





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