The federal government has been trying to find a balance between logging and fish and wildlife habitat since at least the late 1980s. The spotted owl was designated as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1990 — an action that led to massive logging cutbacks on national forests and other federal lands in western Washington, Oregon and Northern California.
The bird was blamed for the loss of tens of thousands of jobs and landed on the cover of Time magazine.
The plan is the latest federal attempt to protect the northern spotted owl, the passive, one-pound bird that sparked an epic battle over logging in the Pacific Northwest two decades ago.
The government set aside millions of acres of forest to protect the owl, but the bird’s population continues to decline — a 40 percent slide in 25 years.
A plan announced Tuesday would designate habitat considered critical for the bird’s survival, while allowing logging to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire and to create jobs. Habitat loss and competition from barred owls are the biggest threats to the spotted owl.
According to the American Forest Resource Council, the plan has the potential to double the amount of acres designated as “critical habitat.”
Barred owl vs spotted owl – to find out who wins click here.