Sierra Pacific Spotted Owls HCP

Received this USF&WS press release, but I have yet to find the final EIS it mentions. This page at Regulations.gov has some supporting docs, but I don’t see the full EIS. Anyone have a link to it?

 

Final Habitat Conservation Plan for Sierra Pacific Industries Conserves Important Habitat for Northern and California Spotted Owls

July 30, 2020

Contact(s):

Meghan Snow, Meghan_Snow@fws.gov, 916-414-6671

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the availability of a final environmental impact statement for a proposed habitat conservation plan (HCP) and associated incidental take permit for Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) forestlands in northern California. The final HCP will help conserve important habitat for California spotted owls and northern spotted owls while allowing for commercial timber harvest on SPI forestlands over the next 50 years.

“This plan goes to show what is possible when industry and government work together towards a shared conservation goal,” said Aurelia Skipwith, Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “The conservation steps SPI is taking today will help the California and northern spotted owl prosper into the future.”

In recent years, populations of both owl species have been impacted by the movement of barred owls into the region, as well as the loss of habitat due to catastrophic wildfires and drought. As part of the HCP, SPI will implement a variety of forest management activities to support California and northern spotted owls, including building strategic firebreaks to combat potential wildfires, establishing owl protection zones in areas where spotted owls are active or nesting and conducting barred owl research to help manage problematic populations.

“SPI’s forestlands are home to some of the highest concentrations of spotted owls in the state. With this plan we are committing to long-term conservation of the California and northern spotted owl species on our sustainably managed forests,” said Mark Emmerson, SPI chairman and CFO.

The final HCP covers more than 1.5 million acres of SPI forestlands in Amador, Butte, Calaveras, El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Tehama, Trinity, Tuolumne and Yuba counties.

The final documents will publish in the Federal Register on July 31, 2020, and a record of decision will be signed no sooner than 30 days after the publication date. The documents will be available on www.regulations.gov by searching under the docket number FWS–R8–ES–2020–0073.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information about our work and the people who make it happen, visit our website. Connect with us via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr.

-FWS-

3 thoughts on “Sierra Pacific Spotted Owls HCP”

  1. An HCP is intended for listed species, and only the northern spotted owl is currently listed. So I think it’s interesting that the press release doesn’t mention logging as threat, since the FWS Northern Spotted Owl Recovery Plan says, “Currently, the most important range-wide threats to the spotted owl are competition with barred owls, ongoing loss of spotted owl habitat as a result of timber harvest, habitat loss or degradation from stand replacing wildfire and other disturbances, and loss of amount and distribution of spotted owl habitat as a result of past activities and disturbances.”
    https://ecos.fws.gov/docs/recovery_plan/RevisedNSORecPlan2011_1.pdf

    A side-note on forest planning – the California spotted owl is not listed, in part, because, “Specifically, measures described in the 2004 Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Amendment, the 2005
    Southern California National Forest Land Management Plans, and other conservation measures will continue to decrease the negative effects of clearcutting and mechanical thinning.” (That sort of suggests that logging is threat to this species as well?) https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2019-11-08/pdf/2019-24336.pdf#page=1

    The cumulative effects discussion in the EIS regarding national forest lands might be interesting, too.

    Reply
    • That means that the previous style of logging (overstory removal and clearcutting) was, indeed, a big threat to the owl’s survival. Yes, they do nest in sub-optimal habitats but, new stands of ‘old growth’ aren’t coming online quicker than chunks of habitat are being vaporized. I’m quite sure that owl habitats within Yosemite National Park suffered greatly in the Rim Fire. Remember, owls need a system of nests, within their territorial habitat. Nests cannot be used two years in a row. Those nest sites need some time to be cleansed of bird feces.

      Currently (in National Forests), as core CASPO habitats are consumed by fire, replacement acres of suitable habitats are incorporated into the undamaged portions.

      Reply

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