Judge eases Christmas tree-cutting ban in fight over owl

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The cutting of Christmas trees across several national forests in the Southwest will be allowed under an order issued by a U.S. district judge in the fight over a threatened owl.

That includes a tree from the Carson National Forest that will be felled and displayed outside the U.S. Capitol.

The tree-cutting along with prescribed burns and other projects were put on hold following an earlier ruling in a case that alleged the U.S. Forest Service failed to consider the effects of thinning and logging on the Mexican spotted owl.

Forest officials said the initial ruling essentially prevented all timber management activities on five forests in New Mexico and one in Arizona. Environmentalists argued that interpretation was overly broad.

The sides agreed to changes and the judge signed off Tuesday.

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