After 21 days of leave with uncertain pay due to the federal budget impasse, Forest Service workers in Espaûola, N.M., returned to work Jan. 8 to find their office had been bombed. "What a welcome back," says Sam Mott, a spokesman for the Santa Fe National Forest. "We'd feel better if we knew why. It's causing a lot of stress."
The FBI has no suspects yet, but
plenty of leads and too many motives, an investigator told the
Albuquerque Journal. Just days before the bombing, the Forest
Service approved a controversial expansion at the Santa Fe Ski
Area, and Mott says there's still a lot of locals angry over
logging and firewood-gathering restrictions on nearby forests to
protect the Mexican spotted owl (HCN, 12/25/95). He says the FBI is
also looking at connections to other bombings on federal property,
such as the explosion at a Carson City, Nev., Forest Service office
Local Hispanic leaders and
environmentalists discount the theory that the firewood controversy
led to the violence; both sides say they're trying to work out
their differences peacefully.
Mott says this is
the third act of vandalism at a northern New Mexico Forest Service
office since the 1960s. In all three cases, no one was hurt and
police found no suspects. Keiran Suckling, a New Mexico
environmentalist who recently relocated to Tucson, Ariz., also sees
a trend: "Burning of buildings and houses is a virtual tradition in
New Mexico. It's bizarrely common."