As Larry mentioned a month ago, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service has made a positive 90-day finding on a petition to list the California spotted owl under ESA. This means that listing may be warranted, and the agency is soliciting additional comments by November 17.
The action was taken in response to a petition last December by the Wild Nature Institute and the John Muir Project of Earth Island Institute. A second petition was submitted by Sierra Forest Legacy and Defenders of Wildlife in August. The SFL website lists the new scientific information that supports listing, which among other things downplays the idea that fires are bad for owls. The FWS response to the earlier petition states: “Recent research has focused on use of burned forests by CSO and has concluded that unlogged burned areas may be important to reproductive success and continued occupancy.”
The petition response also implicates national forest plans as another detrimental change that has occurred that must be considered in determining the adequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms for protecting the species:
- 2004a USDA. This amendment to the 2001 US Forest Service Forest Plans
(USDA 2001) allowed increased or new timber harvest, thinning. fuels
reduction. post fire logging. etc. in areas previously managed for CSO.
- USDA 2013b. Management in the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit
allows clear cut timber harvest and removal of larger diameter trees (>30″
dbh) in CSO habitat and previously occupied nest areas.
It is currently Forest Service policy to not contribute to listing under ESA.