Environment | Local | Politics

New Plan Nearly Doubles Northwest Owl Habitat

OPB | Nov. 21, 2012 2:29 p.m. | Portland

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Spotted Owl

Spotted Owl

Rob Manning / OPB

The northern spotted owl is receiving additional protections across 9 million acres in the Northwest.

Federal officials had to scrap a Bush-era habitat plan after investigators found it had been politically manipulated.

Habitat regulations for the threatened bird are controversial because the owl lives in forests attractive to loggers.

The new map protects almost twice as much land as the Bush plan did.

That’s a win for environmentalists like Noah Greenwald at the Center for Biological Diversity.

Spotted Owl

Spotted Owl

Rob Manning / OPB

“This really restores protections on federal lands, and reaffirms the commitment to protect mature and old-growth forests,” Greenwald said.

But Tom Partin with the industry group American Forest Resource Council said the map ignores the effect of wildfires and the larger barred owl, “So simply setting aside more land for habitat isn’t the answer.”

Most of the protected area is federal forestland. No private land is involved, and there’s less than 300,000 acres of state forest – mostly in Oregon.

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