In response to a 2013 lawsuit filed by the Santa Fe-based environmental group WildEarth Guardians, a federal judge imposed a ban on all timber harvesting activities in forests throughout New Mexico on September 26th, 2019. The ban was intended to protect the habitats of Mexican Spotted Owls who make their nests in the tall canopies of Ponderosa Pines, but there is little evidence to show that it has done anything but strain New Mexican businesses that depend on the forest for their livelihoods.
The original lawsuit by WildEarth Guardians was filed in response to the U.S. Forest Service failing to adequately monitor spotted owl populations, which have been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act since 1993. While there is still no monitoring system in place for the owl population, NM businesses that rely on the forest feel they are caught in the middle of the fight between the Forest Service and WildEarth Guardians. Businesses like Mt. Taylor Manufacturing who produce wood pellets, lumber, playground chips and garden mulch from gleaned from thinned trees are feeling the pressure as the ban takes it’s toll. Read more HERE.