Just last month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) said the owl in the north needs to be classified from threatened to endangered, due to the ongoing loss of old growth forests it has – especially private and government Land – and the continued spread of the invasive barred owl, which rivals the spotted owl.
The Trump administration declined to add the bird to the list, and this week it pounded another metaphorical nail into the owl’s coffin. On Wednesday, FWS released a final revised critical habitat designation for the owl that bans nearly 3.5 million acres, mostly in Oregon, from federal protection. This is a massive increase from 204,653 acres in Oregon that the FWS sought to exclude in August.
“Even over the past week, the Trump administration has continued its cruel, ruthless attacks on wildlife at a breakneck pace,” said Noah Greenwald, director of endangered species at the Center for Biodiversity. “This overhaul has protected the owl habitat by more than a third. It’s Trump’s latest parting gift to the timber industry and another blow to a species in need of all the safeguards it can get to fully recover. “
Section 4 (b) (2) of the Endangered Species Act requires the service to weigh the benefits and costs of designating areas as critical habitats and consider excluding areas if the cost is too high. The service did not conduct a new economic analysis, but instead relied on a 2012 analysis that found some additional costs for reporting in relation to lost timber. The agency returned to its own conclusion that the benefits outweighed the costs.
This is in line with a rule recently issued by the Trump administration which emphasized that added weight is being added to the economic costs incurred by industry in designating critical habitats and which the Center for Biodiversity, along with partners, will will question.
Based on this analysis, the new critical habitat revision will exclude approximately 3,472,064 acres, reducing the hectares of Protected Critical Habitat originally designated in 2012 by more than a third.
“Excluding millions of acres of state will do little to the rural Oregon communities, but it will be another nail in the coffin for the owl,” Greenwald said. “Instead of trying to prop up a declining timber industry, we should do more to restore forests to save our climate and avoid the extinction crisis. There is so much to do in the forest, and much of it is much better for the environment than cutting it down. “
Thank you to the Center for Biodiversity for providing this news.
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