New Mexico (September 25, 2019) — The New Mexico Business Coalition (NMBC) announced today that it is calling on New Mexico’s Congressional delegation to protect New Mexican’s who depend on wood for heat and to defend New Mexico forestry related jobs.

NMBC President Carla Sonntag said, “The lawsuit filed by Wild Earth Guardians in Arizona based on concerns over ‘inadequate tabulation and monitoring’ of the Mexican Spotted Owl has resulted in the U.S. Forest Service taking drastic action that will harm New Mexicans. The result, ‘Immediately suspending issuance and implementation of active and new commercial and personal-use forest product permits.’ This overreaction to a broadly worded lawsuit stops all forest management activities across the Lincoln, Santa Fe, Cibola, Carson, and Gila national forests across New Mexico. Many New Mexicans rely on wood to heat their homes and winter is right around the corner.”

According to a report from the Bureau of Business and Economic Research from the University of Montana, in 2016 national forest land accounts for 62% of non-reserved timberland (2,626 acres) and 60% of the of the volume of timber harvested came from national forest land in New Mexico. The report documents that the New Mexico forest industry employed around 2,400 people in 2016 with a mixture working in forestry and logging, and the others in wood product manufacturing.

Sonntag added, “By filing this broad-based lawsuit, Wild Earth Guardians effectively halted all personal fuelwood gathering right before winter, hurting those without money for other sources of heat. They should be ashamed of themselves for putting those in poverty at risk of freezing to death, all because they are concerned over a lack of data about an owl? And what about the families supported by forestry-related jobs that will be lost?”

The owner of Mt. Taylor Manufacturing, Matthew Allen, who works in the forest management and wood recycling business told NMBC that he has no more than two months before his business will be forced to close because of the lawsuit. Allen said, “About 48 direct jobs are at risk and another 15 or more indirect jobs will be lost if nothing changes with the ban on management activities in New Mexico forests.”

Not only does Allen’s business provide much needed jobs, the work they do in forest management and wood recycling is beneficial to New Mexico’s forest areas and the wildlife living there. Without this type of work, providing income for New Mexicans, our forests become dangerous places for wildfires.

This lawsuit targets federal agencies that control national forests in our state, so the response needs to be from New Mexico’s federal elected officials. NMBC is calling on Senators Udall and Heinrich, and Representatives Haaland, Lujan and Torres Small to take immediate action to save lives and defend New Mexico jobs.
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New Mexico Business Coalition (NMBC) is a statewide nonpartisan, probusiness organization and state affiliate for the National Association of Manufacturing. NMBC focuses on improving the business environment for companies and the quality of life for all New Mexicans through its nonpartisan educational efforts and outreach. For more information, visit our website at www.nmbizcoalition.org