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Wood hauling resumes after severe winter weather impacts

SANTA FE, NM – The Forestry Division of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department continues to conduct forest restoration projects that provide logs to local wood-using businesses affected by the ongoing legal injunction impacting all five National Forests in our state, while at the same time reducing wildfire risk in these areas. At the Direction of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, the Forestry Division is working with private landowners in the Zuni Mountains and elsewhere. As the injunction continues to impact timber harvesting in National Forests, the Forestry Division is proactively organizing landscape restoration projects on private land in the Zuni Mountains that will reduce wildfire risks.

The Forestry Division is partnering with local businesses on these restoration projects to keep supplies available and preserve jobs to local businesses in Milan and Reserve.

"While resolution of the court injunction is beyond the state's jurisdiction, it is essential that restoration projects continue this spring so that forests are resilient and contractors and manufacturers can keep people employed," said State Forester Laura McCarthy. "More than 50 jobs continue to be at stake in Milan and Reserve alone and many people, including members of the Navajo Nation, face the loss of their livelihood."

Severe weather impacts over the winter months left roads leading to the project areas impassable for large trucks and prevented forest thinning from taking place. Weather conditions combined with lack of wood supply from the National Forests, forced some mills to furlough workers for several weeks. With better weather and improved road conditions thanks to the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service (USFS), timber hauling has resumed with Covid-19 guidelines in place.

The Forestry Division is ensuring that employees, contractors, and landowners are protected from the spread of COVID-19 by continuing to use a "self-check" process, frequent hand washing, sanitizing tools and vehicles, and using masks and gloves.

The Forestry Division is currently managing multiple restoration projects adjacent to National Forest lands, with more in the planning stages thanks to local landowners. These include projects in the Jemez, Sacramento and Turkey Mountains that could provide a wood source for other contractors and wood-using businesses.

The forest restoration is being funded through capital outlay and the Forest and Watershed Restoration Act (FAWRA). Continuing to find solutions and complete critical forest restoration work as the injunction works its way through the courts will remain a top priority for the Forestry Division.

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