TAOS, N.M. – A tree to be displayed outside the U.S. Capitol building over the holidays is supposed to come from a northern New Mexico forest.
That’s if the U.S. Forest Service can get an exception from a tree-cutting ban across all New Mexico national forests and one in Arizona.
A federal judge says people can cut firewood for personal use, but sidelined all other timber management activities.
The ban came in a 2013 lawsuit that environmentalists filed against the Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, accusing them of failing to track the threatened Mexican spotted owl for more than 20 years.
The Capitol Christmas Tree is scheduled to be cut from the Carson National Forest early next month.
The forest is working to exclude the cutting from the ban.