FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A tree-cutting ban in Southwest forests meant to protect a threatened spotted owl was narrowed Tuesday to exclude personal firewood cutting permits that residents in rural areas rely on to heat their homes and cook.

The ban on timber management activities covers 18,750 square miles (48,600 sq. kilometers) in all five national forests in New Mexico and the Tonto National Forest outside Phoenix.

A U.S. judge amended it to allow the sale and use of personal firewood cutting and gathering permits after an environmental group said such permits wouldn’t irreparably harm the Mexican spotted owl.

 

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