June 28, 2010

The Northern Spotted Owl: 20 years later

By The Northern Spotted Owl: 20 years later

Author: Brandon Middleton

Saturday marked the 20th anniversary of the northern spotted owl's listing as a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act. The Oregonian has a nice profile of the species' regulatory history:

Spotted owls are welterweights as owls go, averaging 1.3 pounds and 18
inches long. But their listing opened the Northwest's timber wars, a
heavyweight slugfest between environmentalists and loggers, city and
country.

The listing saved precious old-growth stands,
repositories of clean water and diverse critters. But it sharply
curtailed harvests on federal forests. That put more logging pressure on
Oregon's limited state forests, shuttered mills and cut the state's
total harvest in half.

Despite the economic sacrifice, the spotted owl
population has continued to drop, hitting all-time lows in some study
areas. The likely culprit: aggressive barred owls invading the spotted
owl's territory.

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