Hey, sorry about that whole “ruining thousands of lives in the timber industry on the West Coast” tiff we had back in the 1990s. Would you loggers mind helping us out? You know, for the owls.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) today formally proposed several actions, some of them controversial, to aid the iconic northern spotted owl, an endangered species in the Pacific Northwest whose population continues to shrink. The proposals include designating more critical habitat, encouraging logging to prevent forest fires, and an experiment to shoot a competing owl species.
The northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) ran into trouble in the 1980s as its old-growth forest was severely logged in Oregon and Washington. Even though destruction of its habitat slowed dramatically after the owl was placed on the endangered species list in 1990, its numbers have continued to decrease by an average of 3% a year. A major problem is competition from barred owls, which have invaded its territories.
Today’s proposals come from a recovery plan for the owl, released last summer by FWS. The announcement adds more detail and begins the process of creating a formal rule that the agency expects to finalize by November. In its draft, the agency proposes to increase—perhaps nearly double—the current 2.2 million hectares designated as critical habitat, although the agency is keen to exclude private and state lands. The first step is an economic impact analysis of designating critical habitat in various places, along with public comment on the plan.
“We must move forward with a science-based approach to forestry that restores the health of our lands and wildlife and supports jobs and revenue for local communities,” Secretary of the Interior Kenneth Salazar said today during a teleconference with reporters.
In a change from current policies, FWS will encourage so-called active management of owl habitat, such as thinning forests that face a high risk of burning. A Presidential Memorandum released today directs the agency to clearly inform timber companies and landowners how they will be able to log critical habitat. “The science is telling us that unmanaged, fire-prone forests aren’t healthy for either the landscape or the spotted owl,” said FWS director Daniel Ashe at the teleconference.
If you read the latest research, logging wasn’t to blame for the declining numbers. It was the encroachment of another species, the barred owls. “Invaded?” No, I’m pretty sure its simply natural selection at work. Of course, that hasn’t stopped the government from wasting millions of dollars and destroying thousands of lives over the last 20 years, all in an effort to save a bird that seems hell bent on extinction.
Lets get one thing straight here. This whole twenty plus year charade has had little to do with the spotted owl, and everything to do with shutting down logging through environmental activism. The spotted owl was simply the reason environmental groups used to shut down the industry and close huge swaths of both government and private land to logging. The same tactics have been used with other species around the country with similarly devastating results. California’s Central Valley was once considered the most fertile and productive ground in the country. Now its called “the Dust Bowl Congress created, all in the name of saving the Delta Smelt, a non-edible fish. As a basic trainee at Ft. Benning, Georgia, I remember huge swaths of land closed off from training all in the name of “saving” the Red-cockaded Woodpecker. We have similar environmental activist tactics being employed here in Wisconsin at the moment. Instead of using an endangered animal, they are trying to get fracking sand classified as a toxic substance. Therefore the government can regulate it, and shut down any mines it deems “a threat to the public health.” Or at the very least it can tie them up in the court system for decades. Because if they can stop the mining of fracking sand, then its one step closer to their ultimate goal, which is shutting down fracking altogether. In the enviro-religious world, the end justifies the means. So what if people lose their livelihood.
Personally, I think the logging industry should borrow a play from the movie Braveheart in responding to requests to help save the Spotted Owl. They should release a public statement to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that says the following:
Take your proposal and march right back to Washington, DC, stopping at every loggers home you pass by to beg forgiveness for 30 years of theft of income, rape of the forest products industry, and murdering the well being of hard working families. Do that and your spotted bird may live. Do it not, and we will watch every one of them continue to die through natural selection. And before we cut one log, the head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must present himself at the next loggers congress, put his head between his legs, and kiss his own arse.
Do that, and we’ll consider helping your bird.