Spotted Owl Recovery Plan, Too Little Too Late ?

Two juveniles with adult northern spotted owl (USFWS).
Two juveniles with adult northern spotted owl (USFWS).

Two juveniles with adult northern spotted owl (USFWS).

Hopes have been high since Barack Obama took office that rampant logging on public lands would cease and that the adorable northern spotted owl could be brought back from the brink of extinction brought on by habitat loss in old growth forests. Promising moves made last June with the signing of Obama’s landmark Northern Spotted Owl Recovery Plan, turned to disappointment with recent news of intended logging by Sierra Pacific Industries, Inc. in critical spotted owl habitat, and the newer threat of competition from an invasive owl species, the barred owl.

On Feb 2nd, EPIC, the Environmental Protection Information Center, a non-profit organization following the owl’s recovery, delivered a formal Notice of Intent to Sue Letter to billionaire Archie Aldis “Red” Emmerson and his company Sierra Pacific, “for harming Northern Spotted Owls in violation of the Endangered Species Act.”

Sierra Pacific is operating outside of the law and engaging in the systematic liquidation of spotted owl habitat. If necessary, EPIC is prepared to take Sierra Pacific to court to stop these atrocious acts. — EPIC press statement, Feb 2, 2012

Obama’s plan calls for preserving old growth forest habitat on federal, state and private land, and recommends killing barred owls in order to save vanishing spotted owls. According to EPIC, Sierra Pacific is the largest landowner in California, and consequently bears enormous responsibility for ecological stewardship. The plan itself recognizes the challenges and says it could take 30 years and $147 million to reverse the spotted owls’ downward trend toward demise. The Plan also recommends selective killing of the non-native barred owls. As such, the Plan covers the spotted owl’s range in Oregon, Washington and Northern California. It does not however, regulate logging or habitat practices. Rather, government agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management are required to use the Plan as a guide.

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