A federal judge has halted logging on some 2,000 acres in California’s Giant Sequoia National Monument (HCN, 6/9/03: Giant sequoias could get the ax). The logging project was originally approved just before President Clinton’s April 2000 designation of the monument, which was formerly part of Sequoia National Forest. The Forest Service has touted the logging as a fire-prevention project — but the judge noted that it was odd that the agency "waited five years to execute this contract because of unfavorable timber prices."
Three powerful New Mexicans are trying to put the kibosh on the El Paso Corporation’s efforts to open the Valle Vidal to oil and gas drilling. Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., has introduced a bill to prevent leasing in the Valle, which is managed by the U.S. Forest Service and lies northeast of Taos (HCN, 3/1/04: Oil and gas drilling could oust elk — and Boy Scouts). On Sept. 20, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., introduced a similar bill in the Senate. New Mexico’s attorney general, Patricia Madrid, is vowing to fight as well if the U.S. Forest Service decides to lease the area for drilling. Pennzoil Corporation donated the land to the Forest Service in 1982.