Today, Jaime Herrera Beutler released the following statement in response to the final Critical Habitat rule issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that would vastly increase the amount of federal forestland designated as “critical habitat” for the Northern Spotted Owl.
Today, Jaime Herrera Beutler released the following statement in response to the final Critical Habitat rule issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that would vastly increase the amount of federal forestland designated as “critical habitat” for the Northern Spotted Owl:
“I join with those struggling communities, and those who are concerned with the health of our forests and wildlife, in expressing disappointment with US Fish and Wildlife’s plan to expand on a failed management plan of our federal forests.
“Nearly twenty years ago, a desire to save the Northern Spotted Owl drove this well-intended but deeply flawed management approach. Since that time, a growing number of wildlife biologists, academics, conservation organizations – even one of the main architects of the plan itself – have sounded the alarm that this plan has failed our environment and left our rural communities deeply scarred.
“I have noted and do appreciate the agency’s decision to spare private land and much of the state land – something I asked them to specifically consider in my July letter. Since that time, however, our region’s forestland has been rocked by devastating wildfires that ravaged half a million acres of Washington’s forestland. The wildfire, insects and disease threats that originate in our sick federal forests do not respect the state and private delineations that exist on maps – they pose a threat to every inch of Washington’s forest lands. That danger level will remain until federal land is managed back to health.
“For the health of our forests, and the good of the people I represent in Southwest Washington, I urge Fish and Wildlife to stop the course it’s been on for the last 20 years and follow through on a science-based plan that avoids this same trap of managing the entire forest to benefit a single species. This flawed approach has resulted in virtually no forest management, and it has failed. If Fish and Wildlife does adopt an improved approach, we may finally see the Northern Spotted Owls’ population stop declining. A new approach is certainly the only chance we have of restoring forest health, enriching biological diversity, and providing economic benefits.”
The Northern Spotted Owl population continues to decline at a rate of 3% each year.
Former US Forest Service Chief Jack Ward remarked that the Northwest Forest Plan is failing to fulfill its promises to people and the environment. Ward was an original author of the plan.