Owl proposal would open up local logging
June 13th, 2007 - 6:17am
(Washington D.C.) -- The Bush administration has proposed to reduce by one-fifth the Pacific Northwest acreage protected as "critical habitat" for the spotted owl.
They argue that the reductions will "maximize the efficiency" of land blocks set aside for the imperiled bird.
The administration's proposal to reduce the protected owl habitat comes weeks after -- and is based on -- a proposed recovery plan for the owl altered by a high-level team of Bush administration appointees in Washington, D.C., including a former timber-industry lobbyist.
The D.C. team overruled a group of Northwest scientists and others who had produced a recovery plan for the owl. Tuesday's owl-habitat proposal came from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The reductions in protection in the new Bush habitat proposal would be mostly in Oregon and California. But two big chunks of old-growth forest would be opened up to logging on the Olympic Peninsula.
Timber-industry officials have pushed for reconsideration of the protected habitat, which originally was designated in 1992 at the height of the explosive timber wars that pitted loggers against environmentalists. Recent research has noted that while old-growth forests suitable for owl habitat have increased, owl numbers have continued to decline, and that the owl faces a new threat from its cousin, the barred owl.
Bush administration calls for cutting spotted owl habitat
10:17 PM PDT on Tuesday, June 12, 2007Associated Press
King 5 News
GRANTS PASS, Ore. - The Bush administration proposed Tuesday cutting 1.5 million acres from Northwest forests considered critical to the survival of the northern spotted owl.
The proposal reopens the 1990s battle between timber production and wildlife habitat on public lands.
The owl became a symbol of the decline of the Northwest's timber industry. It was declared a threatened species in 1990. This was due primarily to heavy logging in the old growth forests where it nests and feeds.
Since taking office in 2000, the Bush administration has been working to change the Northwest Forest Plan to allow more timber production. But it has been largely stymied by court rulings, including several that tossed out plans to log in critical habitat for the owl.
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