A new plan by a review panel made up of Bush administration political appointees could spell bad news for the northern spotted owl.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to eliminate 1.5 million acres of critical habitat for the ancient-forests-dependent northern spotted owl.

The agency’s new rule, published in the Federal Register on June 12, would cut critical habitat for the owl from its current 6.9 million acres to 5.4 million acres, a reduction of 22 percent.

The proposed reduction in critical habitat is the result of an initially science-based plan having fallen into the hands of an “oversight” committee of political appointees from the Bush administration.

The new proposal would pare down the protected habitat acreage currently provided by the landmark Northwest Forest Plan. This plan was a 1993 accord that sought to balance timber harvest with the needs of forest and wildlife conservation.

By limiting protected habitat for the spotted owl and allowing logging back in to old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest, the Bush administration is continuing its push to increase logging on federal lands. Rather than make decisions based on the desires of political appointees and the timber industry, the administration should base its plans on sound science.

“The owl and its old-growth habitat must not be sacrificed to this administration’s lust for logging,” said Paul Hughes, executive director of Forests Forever. “The Fish and Wildlife Service should withdraw the draft plan, and put together one backed by real science and scientists.”


Send your comments on the proposal to the Fish and Wildlife Service:

Kemper McMaster, Field Supervisor
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office
2600 SE 98th Ave., Suite 100
Portland, OR 97266

Email to:


If you send your comments by email, be sure to include “Attn., northern spotted owl critical habitat” in the subject header.


Dear Mr. McMaster:

I am writing to comment on the proposed critical habitat revision for the northern spotted owl.
Protected critical habitat is crucial to the recovery of threatened and endangered species. Reducing the amount of critical habitat set aside for the northern spotted owl could put the bird at greater risk, at a time when the owl’s population is shrinking and it faces increased competition with other species.

My understanding is that this reduction in critical habitat is based on the recommendations of the so-called Spotted Owl Draft recovery plan, a document made meaningless by a review panel of political appointees. This plan is flawed, and its conclusions are not supported by the best science. It should be withdrawn and a new plan drawn up that is based on the recommendations of scientists.


Your name
Your address

The public comment period for the rule runs until August 13, 2007.


Read the proposed rule as published in the Federal Register


Forests Forever:
Their Ecology, Restoration, and Protection
John J. Berger

from Forests Forever Foundation
and the Center for American Places