silver city, tucson, phoenix, san diego




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On August 18, 1997, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a
Forest Service request to delay, modify, or cancel its injunction
against grazing permits and timber sales which violate Forest Plan
standards and guidelines in AZ and NM. This was the court's
second refusal to water down its injunction. The Southwest Center
and the  Forest Service agree that up to half of the region's 1,365
allotments may violate the Forest Plans although no action has
been taken yet on the July 25, 1997 emergency injunction. The
injunction will remain in place until the Court of Appeals makes a
final ruling on the case.

Twenty three timber sales are currently enjoined. Others may
follow as Forest Guardians and the Southwest Center challenge
sales which the Forest Service claims are consistent with their
Forest Plans.
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The following article ran on the front page of the Albuquerque
Journal (Northern Edition) and the Las Cruces Sun News, and on
B1 of the Albuquerque Journal (State Edition). It concerns a
Forest Service study on the status of songbirds in SW ponderosa
pine forests. The study was won in settlement talks over the
1995-1996 SW timber injunction.

"Report: Songbirds in Peril, Some Species Losing Ground in
Southwest"  By Ian Hoffman, Albuquerque Journal

Here's the good news: No birds has become extinct in New
Mexico this Century.

Now the bad: The raven and American crow, the pinon jay and
mourning dove, the house finch and bushtit - all common,
everyday birds - seem to be in decline in the Southwest's largest

Cassin's finch, a gray-streaked mainstay of bird feeders, is now a
species of concern in New Mexico, as are western and mountain

In short, the familiar backyard songbirds appear to be losing
ground amid ponderosa pine in Arizona and New Mexico, say
researchers cited in a new U.S. Forest Service report on
Southwest songbird ecology.

Environmentalists seized on the new report as vindication for
their claims that logging of old-growth ponderosa, coupled with
grazing and putting out forest fires, are harming songbird

"Quite frankly, it's discouragingly reaffirming," said David
Henderson, executive director of the National Audubon Society's
New Mexico office.

"Particularly here in Santa Fe, we're talking about a loss of some
of our common feathered friends" Henderson said. "I see the
possibility of this galvanizing the public as did Rachael Carson's
book. Basically this is a harbinger of a second 'Silent Spring.'

    Photo Inset #1- "SPECIES OF CONCERN: Cutting dead trees
                    can harm mountain bluebirds. Such insect-eating
                    birds tend to increase in numbers after forest fires
                    leave dead trees behind."

Kieran Suckling and others insisted on the Forest Service study
in October 1995, when settling a lawsuit over protection of the
Mexican spotted owl and Northern goshawk.

"We're not talking about a couple of rare species nobody's ever
heard of. This is across the board," said Suckling, head of the
Southwest Center for Biological Diversity. "Even our common
species, we're not going to be seeing these guys in 20 years. We're
talking about a songbird meltdown in the Southwest."

Environmentalists such as Suckling see the latest report a "silver
bullet," a potentially powerful tool for legal battles to restrict
logging and grazing.

After years of using the federal Endangered Species Act,
environmental lawyers could venture lawsuits under the Migratory
Bird Treaty Act that outlaws the killing of migratory songbirds.

Not so fast, says report co-editor Deborah M. Finch, an
ornithologist with the Albuquerque office of the Forest Service's
Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station.

"I would not go to that extreme," Finch said.

Rather than finding evidence of a "songbird meltdown," she said,
Forest Service researchers found studies suggesting smaller
numbers of songbird species increase in abundance with the
clearcutting, salvage logging and fire suppression that
environmentalists abhor.

"The environmental groups could find information here to
support their position. But it depends on what species they're
talking about, what management practices they're talking about
and where they're talking about," said Finch.

The same is true for federal foresters. They could point to some
species that increase with logging and grazing, Finch said.

Yet many of those birds, said the Audubon Society's Henderson,
are either non-native species or birds that thrive in disturbed

"You're losing your specialists in favor of your generalists, and
that isn't a trade-off I'd like to make," he said.

"Regardless of what position you take you could probably find
something to support it in this document," Finch said. "The thing
about it is, these relationships are very complex."

The 152-page report concludes that a highly diverse forest, full
of old and dead ponderosa as well as some dense, younger stands
and open meadows, will support the greatest variety of songbirds.

By contrast, Southwest ponderosa forests today have been
homogenized by more than a century of commercial logging and
grazing, along with half a century of putting out forest fires.

The hallmarks are dense thickets of small and midsized pines,
with vanishing pockets of centuries-old ponderosa that are
valuable shelter for nesting and insect sources for many birds.

And while forest service researchers found few unassailable
studies on the effects of salvage logging - the harvesting of dead
trees in the aftermath of fires or insect attacks - scientists do tend
to agree dead trees provide important insect food and nesting

"Bird species that depend on dead and dying trees (snags) are
most impacted by any type of salvage logging, whether it be
selective harvest of individual trees or complete stand removal,"
the report said.'

  Photo Inset #2- "OLD-GROWTH LODGER: They pygmy nuthatch nests in
                   tree cavities or abandoned woodpecker holes. It
                   often winters in large numbers in old-growth ponderosa
                   and prefers undisturbed forest."

Some of those birds - the pygmy nuthatch, the white-breasted
nuthatch, the three-toed woodpecker and the mountain and
western bluebirds - are species of concern in the Southwest.

Among the report's highlights:
  - As part of the nation's most definitive bird survey, bird
    watchers have seen declines in 46 of 61 species, or 77 percent in
    forests along New Mexico highways since 1968.

    All of the 11 surveyed birds that live year-long in New Mexico and all
eight     surveyed species that nest in conifers are losing
    numbers. Also, 23 of 26 birds, or 88 percent that nest in open cups
    are declining, according to a 1992 analysis of the Breeding Bird

    "We can presume that the synergistic and cumulative effects of
    natural vegetation change, livestock grazing, logging, fuelwood
    (firewood) harvest, and fire suppression will underlie many of the
    predicted population declines," the report said of birds reliant on
    fairly undisturbed ponderosa pine forests.

  - Scientists must parse out the separate effects of logging,
    grazing and fire on a larger scale, as great as an entire national
    forest, Finch said. Studying grazing effects on songbirds in
    Southwest ponderosa forests is the single greatest research need.
 - Cutting dead trees and taking downed logs for firewood "has
   created a new, unbalanced nutrient cycle" and harms birds that
   feed on tree-killing insects, "which can lead to a reduction in forest
 - Recreation disturbs songbirds. " perhaps the most
   destructive recreational pursuit," the report said.
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As you may know, Sen. Slade Gorton has attached a log export
rider to the Interior Appropriations Bill that would essentialy nullify
the 1990 law that prohibits log exporting company from
purchasing federal timber for its mills as a replacement for private
timber the company is exporting.  Please sign onto this letter and
circulate it for others to sign on.   We need the name of an individual
and organization, no position title or signature needed. Please
respond to:

     Steve Thompson:
     Bob Freimark:   FREIMARK@TWSNW.ORG

Dear Mr. President:

        We are writing to urge you to oppose any amendments that may
be included in the fiscal year 1998 Interior and Related Agencies
Appropriations bill that would weaken the 1990 law banning log
exports from federal and state lands in the West, or otherwise
prevent the Forest Service from properly enforcing the export ban.

        As you know, in 1990 Congress overwhelmingly approved a
permanent ban on the export of unprocessed timber from National
Forests, Bureau of Land Management and state owned lands in the
western United States.  An important part of that law prohibits a
log exporting company from purchasing federal timber for its mills
as a replacement for private timber the company is exporting.  This
practice, known as "substitution," is little more than the backdoor
export of federal timber.

        An amendment has been attached to the Senate's FY 98 Interior
Appropriations bill that would significantly weaken the 1990 log
export ban.  Specifically, the amendment would effectively make it
legal for a company to purchase federal timber as a direct
substitute for private timber the company is exporting.  In addition
to weakening the 1990 export ban, the bill would also create an
administrative nightmare by carving out a dizzying array of
exceptions, loopholes and state-specific export rules that no
agency of the federal government should be expected to implement.

        Every log exported from the Pacific Northwest increases the
economic and political pressure to log the region's federal forests.
 It would be outrageous to weaken the public log export ban at
time when the timber industry is mounting an unprecedented attack on
our National Forests.

        The ban on log exports from public lands enjoys overwhelming
support in the Pacific Northwest.  Not only is the export ban
hugely popular, it is critical to the health of the Northwest's forest
ecosystems.  We urge you to defend the integrity of the 1990 log
export ban by insisting that the total prohibition on federal and
state log exports continue and that the Forest Service properly
implement the ban on substitution.



Kieran Suckling                     
Executive Director                            520.623.5252 phone
Southwest Center for Biological Diversity     520.623.9797 fax      pob 710, tucson, az 85702-710