ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The plan calls for easing logging regulations and protecting habitat for the threatened Mexican spotted owl, but environmentalists have concerns.
Pearce's two-page bill would allow the U.S. agricultural secretary to issue permits for timber activity on national forest lands, but clear cutting would not be permitted unless it complied with certain federal guidelines.
The bill also directs the secretary to set aside parcels of forest as sanctuaries for the owl.
The New Mexico Republican estimates his legislation could result in between 1,000 and 5,000 jobs in the state.
Environmentalists contend Pearce's proposal would exempt timber operations from all environmental laws and undo decades of protections for the owl.