Stop Use of Threatened Spotted Owl Habitat for Timber Harvesting

Target: Department of the Interior, Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar

Goal: Force the Department of the Interior to conduct appropriate research and testing before turning northern spotted owl habitat into commercial timber harvesting land that may adversely affect the threatened species.

Environmental groups and wildlife organizations are calling upon the Department of the Interior (DOI) to stop and withdraw its proposal for commercial timber harvesting in the Pacific Northwest, the critical habitat of the northern spotted owl.

The threatened owl species has been protected under the Endangered Species Act since 1990, when unsustainable logging practices destroyed its natural habitat and endangered the future of the species.

The Department of the Interior is proposing the legalization of timber harvesting and logging in the protected habitat of the northern spotted owl. The Society of Conservation, The Wildlife Society and the American Ornithologists’ Union are requesting a peer review of the proposal and a full environmental impact statement (EIS) in order to evaluate the scientific validity of the proposed plan. These societies and organizations recommend that the EIS identify forest management techniques to characterize the possible impacts on the northern spotted owl.

Paul Beier, president of the Society for Conservation Biology, expressed his concern saying, “I am disheartened that we are revisiting this hard-fought protection for northern spotted owls. The spotted owl continues to need protection. Any activity that can have long-term consequences for the owl must be fully vetted by the peer review process. An environmental impact statement is the best vehicle for accomplishing this task,” Beier said.

The northern spotted owls’ critical habitat provides the essential habitat conditions and food access that the species needs to survive and recover its numbers. In fact, the Endangered Species Act requires that all federal agencies avoid activities that will destroy or somehow harm the critical habitat. Thus, this critical habitat in the Pacific Northwest is protected, and the Department of the Interior is supposed to avoid practices that will adversely affect the critical habitat of the northern spotted owl.

Without valid research and testing, it is unclear how these newly proposed forestry practices would affect the spotted owl. Although the DOI argues that these proposed practices would benefit the species, there is no evidence to support such a conclusion. The species is already threatened, and any misguided, untested actions could undermine its already fragile future.

Please sign below to ask the Department of the Interior to pull back from its hasty actions, and take the appropriate time and care to assess whether its actions will harm the threatened northern spotted owl.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar,

The consequences of the recent proposal by the Department of the Interior to establish commercial timber practices in the Pacific Northwest ought to be properly weighed against the potential harm to this critical ecosystem.

Your department argues that these proposed forest management practices will actually benefit the northern spotted owl, a threatened species protected by the Endangered Species Act. However, there is no evidence to support these claims. In fact, the northern spotted owl was placed on the threatened species list in 1990 after logging and unsustainable timber harvesting practices led to the destruction of its habitat.

Several environmental and wildlife organizations are concerned that commercial timber harvesting of the Pacific Northwest would mean the end of the recovering species. In order to properly assess the possible impacts of the proposed practices on the threatened owl species, an environmental impact statement and peer review are necessary. Without proper assessment and evaluation by scientific experts, the actions of the Department of the Interior are needlessly and wrongly imperiling the northern spotted owl.

Please consider the consequences of your proposal, and take the appropriate and rational measures to make sure your department’s actions will not adversely affect the critical habitat of the threatened northern spotted owl.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

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Photo credit: Lip Kee via Flickr

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