Supervisors decry spotted owl habitat expansion plan
Article Date: 2012-07-03 Source: http://www.trinityjournal.com
By Sally Morris
Trinity County, California, U.S.A. - The Trinity County Board of Supervisors has weighed in on a federal agency proposal to more than double the acreage originally designated as critical habitat for the northern spotted owl in Washington, Oregon and Northern California.
In a letter to Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, Trinity County is demanding formal coordination status with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding its proposal to increase the original 1992 critical habitat designation from 6.7 million acres of forest land to 13.9 million acres.
Claiming the original listing of the spotted owl as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act had a devastating effect on Trinity County's economy and caused irreparable harm to its citizens, the board’s letter notes that in the recent recession/depression, unemployment rates have been around 20 percent here with some communities experiencing rates of more than 35 percent.
In addition to economic harm, the board attributes national forest damage to the spotted owl listing, arguing it has resulted in an excessive overload of fuels and caused critical habitat to diminish.
''The answer is not to increase the amount of critical habitat, but to better manage the public lands so the county, communities and the spotted owl can co-exist as they did for years prior to the early 1990s,'' the letter says.
Drafted by Chairman Roger Jaegel and approved by the board in June, the letter notes that wildfires have continued to burn with increasing frequency and intensity — Trinity County experienced 500,000 acres of wildfire in the decade between 1999 and 2009. The fires in 2008 alone burned over 265,000 acres, destroying more than 25 spotted owl nesting cores along with an undetermined number of acres of critical habitat.
''Again, this points to the management of these forests to a proven fire resilience as the only way we will be able to maintain critical habitat,'' it says.
The county also requests a formal extension of the public comment period on the proposal of at least six months in order to ''adequately relay our concerns on socio-economic impacts as well as the related impacts to forest ecosystems.'' Without an extension, the comment period is about to close.
The proposed critical habitat designation encompasses approximately 1.3 million acres of forest land in Trinity County, including more than 550,000 already contained within designated wilderness boundaries.
Land management prescriptions within critical habitat areas are designed to conserve remaining old growth forest habitat preferred by the owls, whose numbers have continued to decline. The proposal also claims to allow for more active management including logging within some areas to diversify tree stands, and it provides for the experimental removal of hundreds of barred owls believed to be out-competing spotted owls for the same territory.
Disclaimer: This article has been reproduced from http://www.trinityjournal.com and placed here for comment.
OwlPages.com is not responsible for the accuracy of any information in this article, and does not necessarily agree with the author's opinions.
< Previous News article | Next News Article >
Comment on the above News article.