From the Vancouver Sun.com - Twenty years after northern spotted owls were protected under the Endangered Species Act, their numbers continue to decline, and scientists aren't certain whether the birds will survive even though logging was banned on much of the old-growth forest in the Pacific Northwest where they live in order to save them. The owl remains an iconic symbol in a region where once loggers in steel-spiked, high-topped caulk boots felled 200-year-old or even older trees and loaded them on trucks that compression-braked down twisty mountain roads to mills redolent with the smell of fresh sawdust and smoke from burning timber scraps. Regionwide, the owl populations are dropping 2.9 percent a year. In Washington state, they're declining at 6 to 7 percent a year.
While that may seem like a small number, it adds up, said Eric Forsman, a research wildlife biologist with the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Research Station in Corvallis, Ore., who's studied the owl since 1968. "Nothing we do seems to work for the spotted owl," Forsman said. The fight over the owl, however, perhaps the fiercest in the history of the Endangered Species Act, was always about more than just protecting a surprisingly friendly, football-sized bird with dark feathers, dark eyes and white spots. It also was about the future of the ancient Douglas fir, red cedar and Western hemlock forests that once stretched from northern California through Oregon and Washington state into British Columbia, and the habitat they provide for hundreds of species. The owl was considered an indicator species, reflecting the health of forests where trees as old as 1,000 years grow. When the owl was listed as a threatened species in the summer of 1990, it was seen not just as a way to halt the decline in owl populations but also to end logging in the federal old-growth forests. Read more
Posted by Michael Swickard on Thursday, September 30, 2010
Labels: National News
Posted by Jim Spence
Posted by Jim Spence