By Stewart Rooks, Grant County Farm and Livestock Bureau president

The WildEarth Guardians and their elitist, radical members have struck another blow against hard-working, rural New Mexicans. As a result of their lawsuit against the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the US Forest Service, a judge in Arizona declared that all National Forests in New Mexico, and the Tonto Forest in Arizona, are closed to any type of timber management. This includes collecting wood for personal use such as heating your home, thinning projects that reduce fire risks, and harvesting of timber for commercial use. Why? Why are we eliminating an affordable fuel source for the poor and sacrificing our timber industry that is already struggling from previous lawsuits? So that the status of the Mexican Spotted Owl population can be determined.

This is a scientific farce. Studies have shown that the owl thrives in thinned forest where it can better hunt. Additionally, overgrown forests, which occurs when timber management is halted, results in ripe conditions for catastrophic fires that destroy the owl’s habitat. With this lawsuit, the WildEarth Guardians are not only depriving the owl of its habitat, they’re also denying New Mexicans across the state the opportunity practice traditional customs and culture in the Carson, Cibola, Gila, Lincoln and Santa Fe National Forests. Gathering firewood is a way to earn additional income and many residents depend on wood-burning stoves to heat their homes.

This continuing vendetta by the WildEarth Guardians is just another example of how big-city environmentalists are trying to depopulate rural America. Their lawsuits have decimated our timber mills and the good jobs that go with them. When those families leave it turns our schools into ghost towns making consolidation inevitable. Our tax base is demolished and services like senior centers are eliminated.

Join me in calling on President Trump to initiate an investigative inquiry into the legal abuses of the WildEarth Guardians. Only by standing up to their exploitations of our judicial system can we restore economic vitality to our community.