That fire is a threat to the NSO in not news to us here at NCFP. This article, “Another Threat To Spotted Owls: Fire,” from Jefferson Public Radio (Southern Oregon), looks at the issue on the east side of the Cascades.
“Since 2003, wildfires have burned up to 30,000 acres of habitat in the Deschutes National Forest, which has destroyed or fragmented much of the area’s best spotted owl habitat…. The Sisters Ranger District lost 21 breeding pairs after the fires. After the wildfires of 2014, rangers couldn’t find any.”
Loss of habitat due to timber harvesting is still a threat, “but it’s not as great a threat as habitat loss due to fire and things like the barred owl,” says Laurie Turner, a forest wildlife biologist for the Deschutes National Forest.
As far as I know, most of the harvesting on the Deschutes these days is aimed at reducing the threat of large, intense fires and thus stemming the loss of owl habitat.
On the other hand, Chad Hanson claims elsewhere that cutting snags on the Rim Fire in the western Sierras will harm “snag forests,” which are dandy owl habitat: “…current research shows that while spotted owls select unburned or low/moderate-intensity fire areas for nesting and roosting habitat, they preferentially select unlogged high-intensity fire areas for their foraging habitat. This is because these high-intensity fire areas, which create ecologically-vital “snag forest habitat” (also known as “complex early seral forest”), have an abundance of habitat structures, such as snags, downed logs, native shrub patches, and areas of dense natural conifer regeneration, that provide excellent habitat for the small mammal prey species upon which spotted owls depend.”
Could it be that owls, either CSO or NSO, react differently to fire, depending on location?