Owl shuts down the Southwest

  In a ruling reminiscent of the Northwest spotted owl conflict, federal Judge Carl Muecke ordered the 11 national forests of Arizona and New Mexico to halt all logging until their forest plans adequately protect the Mexican spotted owl. The Aug. 24 temporary injunction, which immediately stopped all timber operations, came in response to a lawsuit filed by Robin Silver, conservation chairman of the Southwest Center for Biological Diversity. The lawsuit is Silver's latest; he sued the Fish and Wildlife Service to get the owl listed in l989, then sued earlier this year to get its critical habitat designated. Silver says the injunction against the Forest Service was a long time coming. "They created this crisis through their stubbornness," he says.

Loggers such as Lewis Tenney, vice president of Precision Pine and Timber Co. in Arizona, were reeling from Judge Muecke's ruling. "It's going to have a devastating impact on a lot of people," Tenney told The Arizona Republic. Arizona Gov. Fife Symington said, "It's time to stop Judge Muecke's reign of terror." The Forest Service said it has not yet evaluated the full impact of the injunction.

* Shea Andersen

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