The northern spotted owl, a modest-sized raptor with chocolate- or chestnut-brown coloring, has stood as a symbol of sweeping changes in...
The northern spotted owl, a modest-sized raptor with chocolate- or chestnut-brown coloring, has stood as a symbol of sweeping changes in federal land management. As the bird’s population declined amid widespread clear-cut logging, environmentalists gained court victories to protect the bird by preserving the region’s remaining old-growth forests.
A look back:
• 1973: The Endangered Species Act passes Congress, and the U.S. Department of the Interior lists the northern spotted owl as a potentially endangered species.
• June 22, 1990: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declares the owl threatened.
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• 1991: In Seattle, U.S. District Judge William Dwyer rules the federal government had not done enough to protect the owl, and temporarily shuts down most timber sales in old-growth habitat.
• 1993: Federal scientists say spotted-owl populations appear to be declining. President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore host a forest conference in Portland, which later gives rise to the Northwest Forest Plan.
• 1994: Dwyer upholds the forest plan, which dramatically reduced logging and protected two-thirds of remaining older forests. Federal agencies are required to survey for more than 100 rare species before proposing a timber sale, all but assuring that loggers would never get to cut the 1 billion board feet of timber they say they were promised.
Read the plan online
To read the draft recovery plan for the northern spotted owl, go to: www.fws.gov/pacific. Comments on the draft plan will be accepted until June 25 and can be sent electronically to NSOplan@fws.gov.
• 2000: Federal agencies offer a yearly total of less than 200 million board feet of timber for sale.
• 2002: Timber-industry groups sue the Bush administration for failing to review the status of the spotted owl.
• Thursday: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service releases a draft recovery plan for the spotted owl that envisions recovery in 30 years at a cost of about $198 million.
The plan identifies invasive barred owls as the primary threat to spotted-owl survival and offers two options for public consideration. One option would largely keep the set-asides in the Northwest Forest Plan. A second would offer land managers much more flexibility to draw up boundaries.