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Feds Release New Northern Spotted Owl Plan

OPB | June 30, 2011 5:02 a.m. | Updated: July 17, 2012 1:04 a.m. | Portland, OR

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Federal authorities rolled out final plans Thursday for recovering the Northwest icon, the Northern Spotted Owl. The idea is to conserve land — while trying to limit the barred owl’s effect.

Northern Spotted Owl

Rob Manning / OPB

Federal scientists say the threatened spotted owl’s population is in decline, largely because it’s lost habitat and is losing a battle for food and nest sites to the barred owl. The new Recovery Plan will lead to more studies and possible removals of the barred owl. Forest Service deputy regional forester, Cal Joyner, says it’s possible the spotted owl and barred owl will find different niches and find ways to co-exist.

“We don’t know what that looks like until we buy that time through habitat conservation for a period of time. Will it succeed? We don’t know,” he said.

The Recovery Plan doesn’t map out specific conservation areas. And it expands from an exclusive focus on federal forests to include state, private, or tribal land. But officials say the plan encourages active management – such as logging – if it fits with recovery goals.

A timber industry group has already sued over the process behind the plan.

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