- Associated Press - Thursday, December 19, 2019

GRANTS, N.M. (AP) - The governor of New Mexico has announced that a sawmill will not shutdown after a forest has become a new source of wood for the facility.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says the family-owned business in Cibola County averted a shutdown and the loss of about 40 jobs, the Gallup Independent reports.

The Forestry Division of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department signed an agreement with one of multiple landowners that would enable a forest restoration project, officials said.

The project is expected to begin on private ranches in the Zuni Mountains while Cibola National Forest is under timber harvest restrictions, officials said.

A judge halted fuelwood permit sales and timber management activities on all national forests in New Mexico and the Tonto National Forest in Arizona in September as a result of a 2013 lawsuit, officials said.

“We found a way to protect the jobs at the sawmill by being smarter than a judge in an Arizona court about an unfair injunction,” Grisham said.

The state worked around the judge and was able to find a solution to get debris out of the forest, she said.

“I’m proud that we figured out a way to solve that problem,” she said.

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