Date: 8/22/20 10:04 am
From: Joel Geier <clearwater...>
Subject: [obol] Proposed reduction in critical habitat for Northern Spotted Owl
This announcement appeared in the Federal Register on August 11th but I don't recall seeing any mention of it here on OBOL.
[ https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/08/11/2020-15675/endangered-and-threatened-wildlife-and-plants-revised-designation-of-critical-habitat-for-the | https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/08/11/2020-15675/endangered-and-threatened-wildlife-and-plants-revised-designation-of-critical-habitat-for-the ]
The proposed action would remove protections from about 200,000 acres currently designated as critical habitat for the Northern Spotted Owl.

Public comments on this proposed action can be submitted through October 13th. The link to do so should be posted here:
[ https://www.fws.gov/oregonfwo/ | https://www.fws.gov/oregonfwo/ ]
but I don't see it there yet. There are links for other background information, maps etc.

Local news coverage including a response from Portland Audubon can be found here:
[ https://www.koin.com/news/environment/extinction-in-balance-as-feds-try-shrinking-owl-habitat/ | https://www.koin.com/news/environment/extinction-in-balance-as-feds-try-shrinking-owl-habitat/ ]

This proposal is apparently part of a new, more general policy direction for interpretation of the Endangered Species Act by the current administration, which asserts that USFWS can “exclude certain areas from critical habitat for economic, national security or other relevant factors so long as such exclusion does not cause the species to go extinct.” Under this new interpretation, areas that were previously identified by scientists as necessary for species recovery would not necessarily be protected, if removal of those protections cannot be shown to lead directly to extinction.

I'm copying this posting to the BOO list in case there is interest in a broad-ranging discussion of the policy aspects. However, I would expect that comments focusing on the science of Spotted Owl conservation, as well as any personal experience birding in the areas slated for removal from protection (though avoiding giving detailed coordinates for any remaining owls), would be fully within the scope of what is allowed on OBOL.

--
Joel Geier
Camp Adair area north of Corvallis

 
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