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The Latest: Group seeks to limit scope of tree-cutting ban

September 26, 2019

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The Latest on a court order banning tree cutting on national forests five New Mexico forests and one in Arizona (all times local):

4:40 p.m.

An environmental group is seeking to limit the scope of a court order that bans tree cutting across national forests in New Mexico and one in Arizona.

U.S. District Judge Raner Collins earlier this month sidelined timber management projects on the forests until federal agencies can get a better handle on the population of the threatened Mexican spotted owl.

The U.S. Forest Service said Thursday it has suspended permits for firewood cutting that many residents in rural areas rely on to heat their homes.

WildEarth Guardians has asked the court to modify the tree-cutting ban to exclude firewood permits for personal use.

The Forest Service said it would agree.

It’s unclear when the judge will rule on the motion.

In the meantime, residents are looking for other firewood options.

7:19 a.m.

Six national forests in New Mexico and Arizona have suspended firewood collection permit sales, timber sales, thinning and prescribed burns because of a federal court order related to a threatened owl.

A Forest Service statement released Thursday says the affected forests include all five in New Mexico and Tonto National Forest in Arizona.

U.S. District Judge Raner Collins’ Sept. 11 order halted tree-cutting activities on the six forests until federal agencies get a better handle on how to monitor the population of the Mexican spotted owl and its habitat.

Collins’ order didn’t define timber management activities, only saying they cause irreparable harm and include timber harvesting.

The Forest Service said it may be able to provide people who collect wood for fuel with potential alternative options in their areas.