I ran across this from Bob Berwyn the other day..below is an excerpt. Here are a couple of thoughts from me.
First, according to DellaSalla (not really an objective person, but…) “proposed logging on the Klamath National Forest across 40,000 acres could adversely impact 70 spotted owl activity centers.” Yet info I have from people working in the woods in Oregon suggests that there are many, many protections in pace for actual activity centers. So how would that actually work? Are the protections not thought to be effective in some specific way by DellaSalla?
Second, in my opinion, because a species is outcompeted does not mean that the “older forests” are in danger.. they are just one species. You could argue that the American Chestnut was certainly more of a “flagship species” and more important to a variety of species, and the Appalachian forests are still going strong.. they are just different.
Third, if we follow “habitat loss” as being always a problem, regardless of the importance of other factors, then should Oregon put a moratorium on any housebuilding or other forms of loss? Or is it only timber sales? (this reminds me a bit of Indiana bat). My concern is just about the logic and utility of, if something difficult to stop is the problem (say a disease, or a competitor), stopping everything else just because you can stop the other things. It seems to me like the policy equivalent of the “streetlight effect.”
Fourth, and relating to the title of this post, it seems to me that the NW Forest Plan was a great experiment (by “great” I mean with extremely significant impacts over broad acreages, not necessarily successful in terms of meeting any specific stated objectives) and if the fire folks can do “lessons learned” on fires that clearly impact folks and ecosystems less than the NW Forest Plan, shouldn’t someone do it on this effort?
We could get public involvement on the questions to ask. Some that have occurred to me are: could we have predicted the barred owl? Why did we think habitat management would take care of the owl when clearly it hasn’t?
Was the degree of monitoring necessary? Could it have been done at lower cost?
How much are the Feds and State (all branches) spending on: monitoring, studying, shooting barred owls? Could these efforts be better coordinated across agencies and the level of info improved? What info do we really need today, given all that we have learned?
Could the Plan in general have met more of the objectives at a lower social and economic cost? Could it have been more successful biologically?
When the President was there, it seemed like there was political compromise and interaction with the public and elected officials. How did that interact with the history since and the use of ESA as a policy instrument?
What about the whole interagency management group? How much money did that cost? If coordinating among agencies was successful there, is it a model that should be replicated?
Maybe all of this is known, and of course, I haven’t been watching it very closely as I haven’t been working in the NW for a while. But it seems like something that deserves some serious formal attention.
According to the USFWS, the two main threats to the survival of the northern spotted owl are habitat loss and competition from barred owls. Barred owls have spread westward, encroaching on spotted owl territories and out-competing them.
Conservation advocates said the USFWS must acknowledge the role of habitat loss as a key factor in the continued decline of the species.
“The spotted owl is a flagship species that symbolizes the plight of older forests in the Pacific Northwest,” said Dominick DellaSala, chief scientist with the Geos Institute. “The owl and older forests share a common plight, each hanging on to what little remains under the auspices of the Northwest Forest Plan,” said DellaSala, who was on the US Fish & Wildlife Service recovery team for the owl from 2006-2008.
The old-growth forests of the region, stretching from California’s redwoods to the Olympic Peninsula’s majestic spruce-hemlock forests, are critical for other imperiled species, including the marbled murrelet, Pacific fisher, red-tree vole (southern Oregon coast), as well as Pacific salmon runs. Today only about 20 percent of these ancient forests remain, primarily on federal lands.
“Tthe best way to save the spotted owl and hundreds of species that depend on similar old forest habitat is to protect more habitat from logging so spotted owls can eventually co-exist with invading barred owls.”
The Northwest Forest Plan has helped reduce habitat loss on federal lands since 1994, but the threat from barred owls has intensified. Preliminary results from an experiment testing the effects of removing barred owls from select areas of northern spotted owl habitat show promise in benefitting northern spotted owls and will help inform this review.
“The best tools we have to prevent spotted owls from going extinct are continued habitat protection and barred owl management, both of which are recommended in the recovery plan,” said Paul Henson, Oregon supervisor for the USFWS.
“On a positive note, the experimental removal of barred owls is showing real promise, with early reports indicating that spotted owl populations rebound when barred owl populations are reduced. Our review of the spotted owl will tell us whether current efforts to address threats are sufficient.”
According to DellaSala, federal agencies may actually be hindering the recovery of the spotted owl by permitting more logging activities in the region.
For example, proposed logging on the Klamath National Forest across 40,000 acres could adversely impact 70 spotted owl activity centers.