A fine feathered re-do


Over the years, we've run a lot of stories about the spotted owl (most recently, Spotted owl or red herring? and Hostile Takeover). The threatened raptor, which depends on old growth forests, was blamed for the decline of logging in the 90s, and timber companies have continually pushed to reduce the bird's protection. Both enviros and industry sued the Bush administration over the most recent version of the recovery plan, including the amount of critical habitat set aside for the owl.

Now, the Obama administration says that rather than continuing to litigate, it will toss the Bush plan and rewrite it.

The Seattle Times reports:

Depending on how the plan is rewritten, it could jeopardize an initiative to more than triple logging in Western Oregon forests controlled by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. And it casts into doubt a proposal to loosen restrictions on logging in owl habitat in national forests east of Washington's Cascade Mountains.

In deciding to reconsider the Bush plan, Department of Interior lawyers cited the interference of Julie MacDonald, a political appointee who meddled with at least a dozen threatened/endangered species decisions over the past several years.  Interior recently filed similar motions in other politically-tainted cases, including suits over Gunnison sage grouse, Canada lynx, and bull trout. At long last, it looks like industry and political interests will finally take a backseat to science.


High Country News Classifieds