Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes ESA Listing for California Spotted Owl

From Greenwire (subscription) today… Lots of data and background in the Federal Register notice.

The Fish and Wildlife Service proposed distinct Endangered Species Act protections Wednesday for two California spotted owl populations that have long provoked heated policy and political debate.

In a kind of split decision, the agency is proposing that the owl’s Coastal-Southern California population be listed as endangered while the larger Sierra Nevada population would receive the more lenient designation of threatened.

The proposal is not out of the woods yet. In addition to finalizing a listing decision after what will be a lively public comment period, the Fish and Wildlife Service has yet to designate critical habitat that could conceivably spread across millions of acres.

2 thoughts on “Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes ESA Listing for California Spotted Owl”

  1. This listing announcement is foreshadowing a aggressive program of “logging it to save it” even though it is well-established (thanks to the state-and-transition models used by carbon scientists) that the adverse effects of fuel reduction logging, plus unavoidable wildfire, are worse for spotted owls than the effects of wildfire alone, due in large part to the low probability that fuel logging will interact with wildfire during the brief period that treatments are effective.

    Raphael et al (2013) used a state-and-transition model to explore the effects of landscape fuel reduction logging on spotted owls and found:

    Active fuel reduction activities in moderate habitat contributed to substantial short-term (simulation years 0 to 30) population declines under the larger area, higher intensity scenarios. … The combination of BDOW interactions and high-intensity, larger-area treatments contributed to the most substantial NSO population bottlenecks. … It appears that management regimes that take out owl habitat through treatments (either current or potential future) do not reduce the amount of habitat that is lost to wildfire enough to make up for the habitats lost through treatments.

    Principle Investigator: Dr. Martin G. Raphael. Project Title: Assessing the Compatibility of Fuel Treatments, Wildfire Risk, and Conservation of Northern Spotted Owl Habitats and Populations in the Eastern Cascades: A Multi-scale Analysis. JFSP 09-1-08-31 Final Report, Page 19.


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